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Longo Borghini shifts to Tour de France Femmes preparation at Giro Donne

Elisa Longo Borghini on stage 7 at the Giro Donne
Elisa Longo Borghini on stage 7 at the Giro Donne (Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) is unlikely to overhaul the 5:19 gap to maglia rosa Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) in the close stages of the Giro Donne, but isn't concerned about it. 

The Italian is pleased with her performance thus far, particularly after the queen stage 7 summit of Passo del Maniva, because she said it indicates a promising increase in form ahead of the Tour de France Femmes that kicks off on July 24 in Paris.

"Today, our plan was to position me in the best way possible into the climb, and every single girl did her job very well. They took a lot of care of me, and I'm thankful for this," Longo Borghini said.

"On the climb, I paced myself as if I was alone. I know I can be strong uphill, but after last year, I lost a bit of confidence. Since we're here to do the stages and prepare for the Tour, I tried [to see] if this strategy could work out, and personally, I think it did."

Longo Borghini was one of the GC favourites heading into her home Grand Tour. However, the race for the magila rosa blew apart earlier than expected on stage 4 when Van Vleuten, Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ) and Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) attacked and built a 4:51 lead on the nearest chasers. 

Longo Borghini was among the chase group and finished sixth on that day, but five minutes down in the overall classification in fourth place.

The 10-day race offers three decisive mountainous days with the first on stage 7 from Prevalle to Passo Maniva, where Juliette Labous (Team DSM) took the victory ahead of a GC-favourites chase group that included Van Vleuten, Garcia, Cavalli and Longo Borghini. 

"Ina [Teutenberg] and Paolo [Slongo] were directing me perfectly, and I was riding uphill, listening to my body and not reacting straight away to the mountain goats' attacks," Longo Borghini said. 

"I'm a heavier rider, and I need to keep my own pace."

There are two more GC-deciding days ahead on stage 8 from Rovereto to Aldeno, and stage 9 from San Michele All'Adige, before the final sprint stage 10 into Padova.

The race is never won until the final stage, so anything can happen during the last three days at the Giro d'Italia Donne. 

However, Longo Borghini heads into the closing stages of fourth overall, hunting stage wins, and notably, building promising form ahead of the Tour de France Femmes.

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