Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) closed out the Spring Classics with her fourth podium of the season, taking third behind Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes on Sunday.
Although her signature attack proved successful with the Trofeo Alfredo Binda victory, the Italian champion said before the start of the season that she hoped to work on her sprint and she saw her result in Liège as an improvement in terms of tactics and sprint power.
"I'm really happy, I did a good sprint," Longo Borghini said. "I couldn't expect more and chapeau to the winner because she was really strong today, and the World Champion put her in the best position to win this race."
Longo Borghini trusted the advice of directeur sportif Ina Teutenberg, who in her career was a powerful and smart sprinter.
"We were in a very strong group, I wanted to go for the sprint because it was my only option. So many times I tried to attack and it didn't work out so Ina told me to wait for the sprint. I did believe I could go on the podium. Ina told me to go at the very last moment. I took Vollering's wheel but I couldn't pass her. I'm pretty satisfied about my third place and I couldn't ask for more.
"They put us on the right side because the wind was coming from the front and left-side. Ina told me to go very late because it was a long sprint and headwind so I had to come late. Starting from the very last position was probably good for me because Kasia [Niewiadoma] was second and started the sprint as first. I could overtake Kasia using Vollering's wheel but she was faster and so was Annemiek.
"It was really good to have Ina talking me through these things because I'm not normally very good in a sprint. I really need to learn and believe a little bit more in myself and believe that I can also play the game in a sprint. Sprinting for the town signs in training is helping!"
The Trek-Segafredo rider was outnumbered in the five-woman leading group, as world champion Anna van der Breggen sacrificed her chances for teammate Vollering. They put Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio on the attack on the final climb of the Côte de Roche-aux-Faucons and split the group, leaving WorldTour leader Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) behind.
"It was clear from the beginning that SD Worx were going for Vollering," Longo Borghini said. "On the Roche-aux-Faucons Van der Breggen put on a really hard pace that stopped the others from attacking. I expected Niewiadoma to try something and Van Vleuten went afterwards.
"At the beginning we were three and then the [other two] joined us, so I thought my best option was to go for the sprint. I have no regrets, this morning I said I would have been happy if I came to the finish line having given my 100 per cent, and I did, so I can't complain. The team rode really well, so I need to thank Trek-Segafredo, they were riding really good for me. It's always an honor to wear it, it shows that you're always there and consistent in your results. I will surely try to defend it, but there are many races and the season will speak for itself."
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