Longo Borghini wins Strade Bianche Women
Niewiadoma and Deignan round out podium after dramatic finale
Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) celebrated a dramatic Strade Bianche victory in rain-soaked Siena on Saturday, outfoxing Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) and defending champion Lizzie Deignan to the Piazza del Campo finish line. The Italian was part of a five-rider breakaway that formed on the seventh of eight gravel sectors of the 127-kilometre UCI Women's WorldTour opener.
"I think it was a thrilling finale to watch and a thrilling finale to ride," Longo Borghini said afterwards. "This is another great victory after my two big Classics wins. It's great to have the winner's trophy. This is an important win for me because it's one of the most beautiful races in the world. It's rare. I'm very proud to have honoured the race by racing so hard."
Longo Borghini's ability to "race hard" was on full display during last weekend’s European season opener. The 25-year-old inspired the race-winning move at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last Saturday, ultimately finishing in fifth place. The following day, she launched a late race flyer at Omloop van het Hageland that was caught only when the bunch opened its sprint, which was eventually won by her teammate Jolien d'Hoore.
"After Rio, I realised I don't need to fear anyone," said Long Borghini, bronze medallist at the 2016 Olympics. "I've realised my true abilities. Before I was fearful of my rivals. Now I respect them, but I'm not afraid."
En route to her Strade Bianche victory, Longo Borghini overcame a crash on the fifth sector of the race.
"It was in the longest sector of the dirt road, on a flat part at the start," Longo Borghini noted. "Chloe Hosking [Alé Cipollini] crashed in the middle of the road, and I couldn't avoid her. I got back on, and Piccolo Donna [teammate Audrey Cordon] gave me her bike because we're the same size. I got my spare bike at the end of the sector."
How it unfolded
The elite women set out from Siena under ominous skies. Both former Strade Bianche winners were on the start line in Boels-Dolmans duo Megan Guarnier (2015) and Lizzie Deignan (2016). Their teammate, Olympic road champion Anna van der Breggen, was the most notable non-starter. Van der Breggen's illness left the Dutch-registered powerhouse one rider short before racing had begun.
The opening kilometres of the nearly four-hour long race were fairly subdued. Guarnier withdrew with concussion symptoms following sector four. Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma were amongst the fallers on sector five – around the time that the rain began to fall heavily.
"I think it was a passive race partly because of the crash," Deignan told Cyclingnews after the podium ceremonies. "Elisa and Kasia's teams needed time to react. It was also passive because we couldn't race the way we normally do. With only four instead of six, we had to play a defensive game, which I don't like to do."
A non-threatening breakaway of three riders was the first to gain traction. The trio, including Lauren Stephens (TIBCO), Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb) and Lara Vieceli (Astana), gained a maximum advantage of around 90 seconds at kilometre 90 before Orica-Scott organised the chase.
A familiar figure on the front of the peloton closed the last of the gap, as Luxembourgish champion Christine Majerus, with Deignan on her wheel, drove a reduced peloton into the penultimate gravel sector.
"Christine [Majerus] and I went on instinct at that point," said Deignan. "It was the second to last gravel section. Everyone was kind of strung out. There was a descent into it. If you're on Christine's wheel, you're going to be 100 metres ahead of everyone else anyway. She is such a beast. We started the second to last gravel sector together in the first position, and I took it over from there. There was a small selection over the top."
It was from that selection that the podium would emerge. Longo Borghini, Deignan and Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3 Cycling) were joined by Orica-Scott pair Annemiek van Vleuten and Katrin Garfoot.
Eighteen kilometres and one gravel sector remained. A strong chase was taking shape in the leading quintet’s wake, but the leaders, lacking updates, were unaware that the chase was closing in.
"There were no time checks or anything," said Deignan. "We didn't know what was going on."
Three kilometres from the finish, Shara Gillow (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) and then Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) caught the leaders. Brand didn't stick around and immediately rode through the group. Gillow quickly followed suit.
Brand hit the steep climb up Via Santa Caterina with a four-second advantage on Gillow and another handful of seconds on Longo Borghini, Deignan, Niewiadoma and the Orica-Scott riders, who now included Amanda Spratt.
"I never really thought the two would stay away because they had given it everything to chase us," said Longo Borghini. "In a finish like that, you need the legs, and you could see that they were tired."
Longo Borghini was the first to bridge across. Niewiadoma’s attempt to attack from the outside was impeded briefly by a motorbike, but she too made it across to the front of the race. Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma headed towards the final corner atop the climb, 300 metres from the finish line, nearly side-by-side.
"I knew after watching previews editions of the race that the first through the corner at the top of the climb would win," said Longo Borghini. "I gave it everything to get there first. When I did, I gave it absolutely everything to win.
"I tried to be careful in the last corner because the surface was smooth," she added. "I went a bit long…but I made it."
With the race win came the UCI Women's WorldTour overall leader's jersey. "I've never worn a jersey before," said Longo Borghini. "It will be strange but nice."
During the post-race press conference, the race winner praised not only her teammates but also race organisers. "What perhaps is missing from women's cycling is media attention," said Longo Borghini. "I want to thank RCS for showing the race live today. It's a good sign, and let's hope it happens more and more. Strade Bianche has helped the women's movement, and we're all so happy to honour the race."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5||3:44:45|
|2||Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Pro Cycling||0:00:02|
|3||Elizabeth Deignan (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:00:05|
|4||Lucinda Brand (Ned) Team Sunweb Women||0:00:08|
|5||Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica Scott Women||0:00:09|
|6||Shara Gillow (Aus) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:00:12|
|7||Katrin Garfoot (Aus) Orica Scott Women||0:00:18|
|8||Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica Scott Women||0:00:36|
|9||Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||0:01:06|
|10||Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon SRAM Racing||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Claudia Lichtenberg (Ger) Wiggle High5||0:01:09|
|12||Sofia Beggin (Ita) Astana Women's Team||0:01:16|
|13||Janneke Ensing (Ned) Alé Cipollini||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Hanna Nilsson (Swe) BTC City Ljubljana||0:01:21|
|15||Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:01:24|
|16||Dani King (GBr) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:01:25|
|17||Marianne Vos (Ned) WM3 Pro Cycling||0:01:27|
|18||Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||0:01:46|
|19||Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:01:49|
|20||Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Sunweb Women||0:01:54|
|21||Lauren Kitchen (Aus) WM3 Pro Cycling||0:02:00|
|22||Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon SRAM Racing||0:02:01|
|23||Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team Sunweb Women||0:02:04|
|24||Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) BePink Cogeas||0:02:05|
|25||Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:02:06|
|26||Edwige Pitel (Fra) S.C. Michela Fanini||0:02:08|
|27||Marie Vilmann (Den) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||0:02:13|
|28||Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:02:17|
|29||Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Aromitalia Vaiano||0:02:22|
|30||Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon SRAM Racing||0:02:37|
|31||Carmen Small (USA) Team Veloconcept Women||0:02:56|
|32||Polona Batagelj (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:03:00|
|34||Ingrid Drexel Clouthier (Mex) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana Women's Team||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Urša Pintar (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||Joelle Numainville (Can) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:03:14|
|38||Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica Scott Women||0:03:29|
|40||Alice Barnes (GBr) Drops Cycling Team||0:03:43|
|41||Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb Women||0:04:13|
|42||Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Fra) Canyon SRAM Racing||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Rozanne Slik (Ned) Team Sunweb Women||0:05:08|
|44||Daiva Tuslaite (Ltu) Alé Cipollini||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Agnieszka Skalniak (Pol) Astana Women's Team||0:07:32|
|46||Anna Potokina (Rus) Servetto Giusta||0:07:38|
|47||Amalie Dideriksen (Den) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:08:06|
|48||Silvia Persico (Ita) Valcar PBM||0:08:27|
|49||Camilla Pedersen (Den) Team Veloconcept Women||0:08:30|
|50||Moniek Tenniglo (Ned) WM3 Pro Cycling||0:08:33|
|51||Eri Yonamine (Jpn) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:08:41|
|52||Lisa Klein (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||0:08:47|
|53||Georgia Williams (NZl) Orica Scott Women||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|54||Lara Vieceli (Ita) Astana Women's Team||0:08:52|
|55||Anna Plichta (Pol) WM3 Pro Cycling||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Omer Shapira (Isr) Giusfredi Bianchi||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Jenelle Crooks (Aus) Orica Scott Women||0:08:57|
|58||Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||0:09:00|
|59||Charlotte Bravard (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:09:08|
|60||Simona Bortolotti (Ita) Giusfredi Bianchi||0:09:40|
|61||Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon SRAM Racing||0:10:49|
|62||Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle High5||0:10:50|
|63||Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Astana Women's Team||Row 62 - Cell 2|
|64||Katia Ragusa (Ita) BePink Cogeas||Row 63 - Cell 2|
|65||Chloe Hosking (Aus) Alé Cipollini||0:10:52|
|66||Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Lensworld-Kuota||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|67||Miriam Bjørnsrud (Nor) Hitec Products||Row 66 - Cell 2|
|68||Abby-Mae Parkinson (GBr) Drops Cycling Team||Row 67 - Cell 2|
|69||Trixi Worrack (Ger) Canyon SRAM Racing||0:10:57|
|70||Roxane Knetemann (Ned) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:11:06|
|71||Audrey Cordon Ragot (Fra) Wiggle High5||0:11:25|
|72||Lija Laizane (Lat) Aromitalia Vaiano||0:12:09|
|73||Jelena Eric (Srb) BTC City Ljubljana||0:12:23|
|74||Mayuko Hagiwara (Jpn) Wiggle High5||0:13:15|
|75||Silvia Pollicini (Ita) Valcar PBM||0:15:30|
|76||Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar PBM||Row 75 - Cell 2|
|77||Elizabeth Holden (GBr) Drops Cycling Team||0:15:59|
|78||Abigail Van Twisk (GBr) Drops Cycling Team||Row 77 - Cell 2|
|79||Greta Richioud (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||0:16:32|
|80||Brianna Walle (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:17:19|
|DNF||Christina Siggaard (Den) Team Veloconcept Women||Row 80 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Thea Thorsen (Nor) Hitec Products||Row 81 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||Row 82 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Romy Kasper (Ger) Alé Cipollini||Row 83 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Carlee Taylor (Aus) Alé Cipollini||Row 84 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Anisha Vekemans (Bel) Alé Cipollini||Row 85 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Alessia Bulleri (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano||Row 86 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Nicole Nesti (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano||Row 87 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Elena Franchi (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano||Row 88 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Alessia Martini (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano||Row 89 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Astana Women's Team||Row 90 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Francesca Pattaro (Ita) BePink Cogeas||Row 91 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ilaria Sanguineti (Ita) BePink Cogeas||Row 92 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Maria Vittoria Sperotto (Ita) BePink Cogeas||Row 93 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Silvia Valsecchi (Ita) BePink Cogeas||Row 94 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Mia Radotic (Cro) BTC City Ljubljana||Row 95 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Nicole Hanselmann (Swi) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team||Row 96 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling||Row 97 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling||Row 98 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Hannah Payton (GBr) Drops Cycling Team||Row 99 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Drops Cycling Team||Row 100 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Eugénie Duval (Fra) FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||Row 101 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Michela Balducci (Ita) Giusfredi Bianchi||Row 102 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Vania Canvelli (Ita) Giusfredi Bianchi||Row 103 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Daniela-Georgina Dumitru (Rom) Giusfredi Bianchi||Row 104 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Chiara Perini (Ita) Giusfredi Bianchi||Row 105 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Emilie Moberg (Nor) Hitec Products||Row 106 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Ilona Hoeksma (Ned) Hitec Products||Row 107 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Simona Frapporti (Ita) Hitec Products||Row 108 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Nina Kessler (Ned) Hitec Products||Row 109 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Lensworld-Kuota||Row 110 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Annalisa Cucinotta (Ita) Lensworld-Kuota||Row 111 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Kim De Baat (Bel) Lensworld-Kuota||Row 112 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Valeriya Kononenko (Ukr) S.C. Michela Fanini||Row 113 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Mónika Király (Hun) S.C. Michela Fanini||Row 114 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Iraida Garcia Ocasio (Cub) S.C. Michela Fanini||Row 115 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Francesca Balducci (Ita) S.C. Michela Fanini||Row 116 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Anna Ceoloni (Ita) S.C. Michela Fanini||Row 117 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Kseniia Dobrynina (Rus) Servetto Giusta||Row 118 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Letizia Borghesi (Ita) Servetto Giusta||Row 119 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Antri Christoforou (Cyp) Servetto Giusta||Row 120 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Laura Camila Lozano Ramirez (Col) Servetto Giusta||Row 121 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) Team Sunweb Women||Row 122 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Heather Fischer (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||Row 123 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Kathrin Hammes (Ger) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||Row 124 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Sara Mustonen Lichan (Swe) Team Veloconcept Women||Row 125 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Doris Schweizer (Swi) Team Veloconcept Women||Row 126 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Sara Penton (Swe) Team Veloconcept Women||Row 127 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Beatrice Bartelloni (Ita) TOP||Row 128 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Nadia Quagliotto (Ita) TOP||Row 129 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Elena Leonardi (Ita) TOP||Row 130 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Michela Pavin (Ita) TOP||Row 131 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Beatrice Rossato (Ita) TOP||Row 132 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Marta Cavalli (Ita) Valcar PBM||Row 133 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Dalia Muccioli (Ita) Valcar PBM||Row 134 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Chiara Zanettin (Ita) Valcar PBM||Row 135 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Amy Roberts (GBr) Wiggle High5||Row 136 - Cell 2|
|DNF||Riejanne Markus (Ned) WM3 Pro Cycling||Row 137 - Cell 2|
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