Leading the Women's WorldTour not only comes with a jersey, it also brings special considerations for Strade-Bianche winner and current series leader Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), who will alter her schedule and race at Ronde van Drenthe on Saturday.
Longo Borhgini, who took the 2017 Women's WorldTour opener at Strade-Bianche last weekend, said it was now imperative to follow up with the second round of the series at Saturday's race in the Netherlands rather than sticking with her original plan of racing at Semana Valenciana. The 26-year-old Italian will not be racing for herself, however, on a course that favours a sprint finish, but will be riding in support of 2015 winner Jolien D'hoore.
"I will be there because it’s a very well organised race and I can be useful for Jolien," she said. "I will try to honour my jersey because I think the leader of the WorldTour needs to be at the WorldTour races, even if the race is not suited for her. It's a way of honouring the calendar and honouring the challenge. I think it's a kind of duty that you have if you are the leader."
Borghini took the first Women's WorldTour lead of the new season with a clam and steady ride at Strade-Bianche, eventually crossing the line solo after attacking from a small group that formed late in the race. Longo Borghini weathered several attacks as the race approached the final climbs into Siena and the cobbled finish.
"I was cool about those moves because it's exactly what I would have done if I was coming back on the breakaway from the peloton behind," she explained. "It's a move you make when you risk everything, because you don't have the legs to face your opponents. You just pass them, and you go full gas, and yo just try everything to try to win the race. But I knew the final didn't suit them, and I know I could bridge across."
Despite her win and WorldTour lead, Longo Borghini said she was taken by surprise by her current form because her main targets come later this spring at the new Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, along with the well-established Flèche Wallonne. She also said winning the WorldTour outright is not currently one of her season goals.
"I'm not looking at the GC to be honest," Longo Borghini said. "I don't think that I would be able to keep the leader's jersey until the end because there are many races coming up, and a lot of races are not for me. I'm just taking it race by race, and I will try to be as good as I can for the periods that I marked. I'm just looking for the Ardennes. Flanders this year will be for Jolien, and I'm pretty happy to be there supporting her."
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Ronde van Drenthe: Jolien D'hoore, Annette Edmondson, Grace Garner, Lucy Garner, Julie Leth, and Elisa Longo Borghini.
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