Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) finished off a team effort by soloing to stage and overall victory on the final day of the Emakumeen Bira on Saturday. Her teammates Anna Plichta and Audrey Cordon-Ragot had been up the road earlier in the stage, and on the final climb Longo Borghini launched her own move.
"On the last climb, Garcia of Movistar attacked, and I followed. I went by instinct and just continued to the top as fast as I could, and all of a sudden I had 28 seconds," Longo Borghini said.
"The last 15km were hell. I tried to push everything I had, I really wanted to win the stage. In the end, I found myself winning the race, the GC and the mountains jersey [as well as the points jersey, ed.] … it’s a dream. It’s just incredible."
The day after her own victory on stage 3, Tayler Wiles played a key role in her teammate’s win as she sprinted to third place on the stage, depriving overnight leader Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) of valuable bonus seconds.
"I knew it was going to be very close," Wiles said. "I could see Elisa as we came into the finish. Every second would count, so I did my best to sprint."
Longo Borghini highlighted the team spirit on the Trek-Segafredo squad as crucial to the team’s success.
"Our strength lies in the fact that we don’t care who wins," she said. "Each of us can go for the victory. When Anna was in front, I told her, 'I feel good, but if you feel good, just have a go and try to have a good result'.
"Our sports directors, Ina [Yoko Teutenberg] and Giorgia [Bronzini], created a great team. We are like cherry jam, we all stick together, and we don’t care who is winning, Audrey, Elisa, Tayler, or Anna. We just like to win, and that is the key."
Bronzini was understandably proud of her charges after a race where the team were on the attack every day and took their first Women’s WorldTour victories.
"I could not be happier – the team rode perfectly. We came here with a low profile. I asked the team to go for a stage win, and then look at GC if we got in a good position," she said.
"Everyone on the team had opportunities. We raced aggressively from the first day to look for a stage win. It was a WorldTour win, but a WorldTour team win. All the staff and all the riders put their hearts into it this week."
Spratt had taken the leader’s jersey after winning stage 2 but ended up missing out on the overall win by a mere two seconds. The Australian admitted to feeling disappointed, but she took solace from the fact she had done her best and congratulated Longo Borghini.
"Of course, there is disappointment. I really wanted to come here and win. But honestly, I finished the race absolutely empty, there’s nothing I could have given more," she said.
"I’m proud of my team, they were amazing out there and controlled it the whole way. They always believed in me and died for me out there, I’m just sad that I couldn’t pull it off for them. But second on GC in a WorldTour race is something to be very proud of. Elisa Longo Borghini had a fantastic ride, and kudos to her, she really deserved that win."
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