Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) defied the odds to win the Women’s Tour overall. After losing three bonus seconds to yellow jersey Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) in the first intermediate sprint, the Italian champion accelerated on the final kilometre to open gaps in the peloton and held on to finish in third place, only beaten by Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) and Brown’s teammate Clara Copponi.
The four bonus seconds for third place gave Longo Borghini a one-second lead over Brown in GC to take the overall victory, while Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) finished third at five seconds back.
How it unfolded
With Brown and Longo Borghini on the same time in GC and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) only two seconds behind after stage 5 that finished on The Black Mountain, the final stage over 142.9km from Chipping Norton to Oxford promised a fight for bonus seconds that would decide the final result.
The peloton stayed together until the second QOM on The Hill in Burford where Niewiadoma attacked, taking Brown, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Team SD Worx), and Wiebes with her over the top, but Trek-Segafredo quickly closed their attack down before the Carterton intermediate sprint five kilometres down the road.
In the intermediate sprint, Longo Borghini had a great lead-out train but started her sprint too late. Instead, Brown powered to the front and took three bonus seconds ahead of Longo Borghini’s teammate Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Niewiadoma, giving the Australian a three-second GC lead and putting Niewiadoma only one second behind Longo Borghini.
A breakaway of 19 riders formed with 75km to go but never had an advantage of more than 30 seconds and was caught around the 50-kilometre mark. Next to attack was Ane Iversen (Team Coop-Hitec Products); when Mieke Kröger (Human Powered Health) and Alessia Patuelli (UAE Team ADQ) bridged to Iversen, the longest-lasting break of the day was formed..
The trio took the bonus seconds in the second intermediate sprint, 40 seconds ahead of the peloton where Team DSM and FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope led the chase. With 15 km to go, Brown suffered a mechanical but quickly returned to the peloton.
As the peloton came closer and closer, Kröger attacked from the breakaway 7km from the finish, and only Patuelli could follow the strong German as Iversen dropped back to the peloton – but two kilometres later, the peloton caught Kröger and Patuelli, too.
In the run-in to Oxford, the sprint trains came to the front for a technical finish with several traffic islands and four turns on the final kilometre. On the penultimate kilometre, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope were at the front with two riders but had lost Brown who was far down the peloton and had to move up on her own. Trek-Segafredo led out Longo Borghini with three riders, and the Italian champion accelerated out of the right-hand turn at the flamme rouge.
Longo Borghini’s move opened up gaps in the peloton, and although Copponi was first onto the finishing straight, Brown was far behind and out contention for bonus seconds. Wiebes had planned to lead out her teammate Charlotte Kool, but as Kool had lost her wheel in the technical final, sprinted for the line herself, passing Copponi and Longo Borghini. Tereza Neumanová (Liv Racing Xstra) came up on the final metres but finished half a bike length behind Longo Borghini for whom the four bonus seconds for third place were enough to topple Brown from the top spot of the GC podium.
With three stage wins, Wiebes also won the points classification for the pink jersey while Elise Chabbey won the green QOM jersey for the second year in a row. Maike van der Duin (Le Col-Wahoo) won the red sprints jersey, Brown was awarded the overall combativity prize while Becky Storrie (CAMS-Basso Bikes) was the best-placed British rider in 15th place overall.
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