Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore and Giorgia Bronzini finished an incredible first and second in the Crescent World Cup Vårgårda Road Race, in Vårgårda, Sweden, in a sprint at the head of a much-reduced peloton. World Time Trial Champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) was third. The victory was D’hoore’s second in the 2015 World Cup series, after the Ronde van Drenthe in March, giving the Belgian Champion the overall lead in the season-long competition.
“It’s amazing. I really didn’t expect to win,” D’hoore said afterwards. “I didn’t expect it to be a sprint actually, so I’m pretty happy!
“There were the first two girls of Rabobank, before the last corner, and then three girls of Velocio,” the Belgian Champion explained. “So I knew that I had to pass the lead out of Velocio before the corner or we are too late, so that’s what I did. I came into the last corner in third position, so that was perfect, but I didn’t know Giorgia was in my wheel!
“Crossing the finish line I looked behind and I saw Giorgia, so it was really cool!
“We were one-two in Flanders, and now one-two here, so it’s pretty amazing!”
The attritional 133.5km race, differing from previous years, was made up of a 56.5km loop around the Swedish countryside, followed by seven laps of the usual 11km finishing circuit. Despite several attempts – usually from single riders – the only successful escape came from Elena Berlato (Alé-Cipollini), who was allowed to gain just over a minute on the peloton before being brought back shortly after crossing the finish line for the first time.
The finishing circuits then saw plenty of attempted breakaways, but the effect was to see more riders dropped off the back of the peloton; shrinking it to less than fifty riders as the race entered its closing stages. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Dani King and Emilia Fahlin were a constant presence at the front of the bunch, helping to prevent any of the constant stream of attacks from getting away.
“I think in the past it was raining all the time, and today was sunny, so maybe that played a role in it as well,” D’hoore said. “I had a feeling that a few girls were afraid to attack. There a few attacks on the hill, but nothing really serious, there was just a hard pace. A few girls were dropped, but I felt really good, and comfortable in the first part of the bunch, so I could still hang on and I still had the legs for a sprint.
“It’s a course that’s always up and down, so you have to stay focused the whole race. It was just a matter of saving as much energy as I could for the last lap because I was expecting an attack of Anna van der Breggen [Rabo-Liv], or Lizzie Armitstead [Boels-Dolmans], or someone like that.
“There was an attack, but nothing serious – or that’s what I saw. I felt really good in the final as well.”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini got clear with a small break on the final time up the climb and, as the group reformed, D’hoore and Bronzini were able to comfortably make it into the leading group. Many of the other sprinters were forced to try and chase back up to the group on the fast descent back into Vårgårda. Longo Borghini was again among those keeping the speed high at the front, to ensure that the damage she’d done on the climb paid off.
D’hoore was comfortably nestled in third wheel as the bunch took the final corner with 400 metres to go. The Belgian Champion then opened up her sprint, and only Bronzini and Brennauer were able to follow.
“We had a plan before the race, and everything went perfectly for us,” D’hoore said. “[Giorgia and I] were talking in the second-last lap, and she said ‘you can do your own sprint, and I will be in your wheel. If you slow down I will take over, but you can do your own sprint.’ So that’s what I did: I went from 200 metres, full gas, but really I didn’t know Giorgia was behind me; I didn’t look behind me.
“Apparently I didn’t slow down so much!” she laughed.
D’hoore’s victory is the fourth in the World Cup for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling this season, following her Drenthe victory, Longo Borghini’s in the Tour of Flanders and Bronzini’s in the Tour of Chongming Island. It is also a second one-two for the black and orange team, after D’hoore took second behind Longo Borghini in Flanders.
The Belgian Champion now has a total of 391 points with one race to go, six points ahead of Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv). Longo Borghini sits in fourth place, on 320 points, ahead of next week’s GP Plouay-Bretagne.
“The plan was not to do Plouay, I just want to have a proper training next week for the World Championships,” said D’hoore. “But [Directeur Sportif Egon van Kessel] said to me ‘you’ve got three days to think about it,’ so it’s not 100% sure yet. But there’s a big chance I’m not doing Plouay.
“I think we have a big chance with Elisa next week and, if she wins Plouay, she can take the leader’s jersey. It’s not up to me.”
The Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team of Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Jolien D’hoore, Nettie Edmondson, Dani King, Elisa Longo Borghini and Amy Roberts finished in fifth place in today’s World Cup Team Time Trial, in Vårgårda, Sweden. The six black and orange riders completed the 43km course in a time of 54 minutes, 22 seconds, just a minute and 31 seconds slower than winners Rabo-Liv. Defending champions Velocio-SRAM finished in second place, with Boels-Dolmans third.
“I’m not happy with the result, but I’m happy with the time gap,” Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Director Sportif Egon van Kessel said.
“In 2010 I won this race with Cervélo, but we were very well prepared for this,” the Dutchman continued. “I think with some more preparation we can close the gap. I don’t think we can close the full minute and a half, but maybe one minute.
“We have to work hard on this, but I think it is possible.”
Unfortunately, an overnight fever meant that former Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin was forced to miss the first race of her home World Cup round. While the team missed the experienced Swede’s considerable power, however, she was replaced by 20-year-old Roberts – a Team Pursuit World Cup winner – who added her technical skills to the team’s performance.
“Emilia was sick, so that’s a big loss for us,” van Kessel explained. “Audrey Cordon is still recovering from a crash in Italy, so she’s not in top shape. So that’s a lot of time we lose. We couldn’t start with the best six riders in their best shape.
“I must say though, that Amy did very, very well today,” he added. “Two-thirds of the race she could work with the team, and she did a good job. She really tried hard, and for a young girl she did a good job. Technically she’s very good, but she’s missing a bit of power; it’s normal, because she’s a young girl, but technically she was really good and I was very happy with her performance.”
After its strong Team Time Trial performance, van Kessel feels confident about Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s prospects in Sunday’s Road Race. Although it will be run over a slightly different course to previous years, van Kessel still expects it to be one of the toughest and most unpredictable rounds of the World Cup series.
“The last 11km [of the Team Time Trial] was on the circuit from Sunday,” he said. “It’s hard circuit. It won’t be a bunch sprint of 100 riders; it will be a maximum of 40 riders; it can be a smaller group; it can be a one-rider attack. It’s a hard circuit – it depends a little on the weather, and which way the wind’s blowing – but I am confident for Sunday.
“We have good riders for the race on Sunday, we have several options, and I’m really confident.”
4. Bigla Pro Cycling Team
5. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini was crowned the overall winner of the 2015 Route de France at the end of the sixth and final stage, between Soultzmatt and Guebwiller, which was won by teammate Giorgia Bronzini. The former two-time road World Champion crossed the line more than a length clear of Loren Rowney (Australian National Team) and Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur) to take her second victory of the race, to match the two stages won by Longo Borghini.
“It was an amazing day,” Bronzini said. “I’m so happy to win again, and we also have the general with Elisa, so I think it was a good job from the team!”
“We started the race with obviously the main thing to defend the jersey,” Bronzini explained. “So I did some work for Elisa to make sure she came to the climb every time at the front, and wasn’t in trouble in the downhill. Me and Mayuko [Hagiwara] were always next to her. Because Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] was not on a good day today, I asked Audrey to cover some moves on the flat parts of the lap, while Mayuko and me were more there for chasing, and on the climb.”
Far from being a simple, processional course, the sixth stage was based on four laps of a 26km circuit, which included the climb of the Col de Bannstein. Despite a commanding lead over Amber Neben (BePink-LaClassica), Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling was taking no chances and stayed vigilant to any potential threats from breakaway riders.
“There was one moment of the race where Audrey was in a breakaway with some girls, who were not dangerous for the general, so we left it,” said Bronzini. “They came back again, so in the last lap we were all together. At 2km to go there was an attack from Bujak, and she did a really good effort. The team hesitated a bit, so I asked Mayuko to chase with what she had, and she brought her back to a small gap.
“The others started their sprint early, because we still hadn’t caught Bujak – but we were going to catch her in the middle of the sprint – and I was on the wheel of Amy Pieters. I came out with 150 metres to go, and it was good!”
With all of the overall contenders finishing in the peloton behind Bronzini, Longo Borghini maintained her overnight lead of 1’10” over Neben, and took the biggest stage victory of an already successful career.
“I’m really happy to have won La Route de France,” Longo Borghini said. “It’s been real teamwork this week and I want to thank my teammates and the staff for this success.
“I came here for training and I’m going away with an overall victory! This gives me motivation and a boost for the rest of the season!”
“It’s thanks to everyone,” Bronzini echoed. “Anna [Christian] couldn’t do much today, but she did a lot yesterday on the climbs, and two days ago, so she has been a big part of the team. Also Nettie [Edmondson], even though today she wasn’t here. It’s a victory that everyone gave some power and some help for Elisa and me; I’m just a little sad that Nettie couldn’t get her victory, as she was so close two times!”
Result Stage 6
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Loren Rowney (Australian National Team)
3. Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur)
Final General Classification
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Amber Neben (BePink-LaClassica) @ 1’10”
3. Claudia Lichtenberg (Liv-Plantur) @ 1’18”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini took an incredible solo victory on the summit of la Planche des Belles Filles, in the fifth stage of the Route de France, to cement her overall lead in the seven-day race. The Italian crossed the finish line 45 seconds ahead of Amber Neben (BePink-LaClassica), with Claudia Lichtenberg (Liv-Plantur) another 18 seconds back, to take her second stage win in three days.
“It was really, really nice because it’s one hill that they are doing in the Tour de France; that the guys are doing,” Longo Borghini said. “[Vincenzo] Nibali won here, so I’m really happy to get another Italian victory for my country.
“The team was really amazing today because they all brought me to the front for the whole day,” she added. “We were really acting like a pro-team, and it was really nice.
“It was just a short stage, but it was tough enough!”
After the peloton started largely together for the first half of the stage – with the only meaningful attack coming from Neben’s teammate Ana Maria Covrig – the peloton was all together as it approached the top of the 1st category Col des Chevrères with 18km to go.
“Mayuko [Hagiwara] attacked on the Col des Chevrères and it was really nice for her, and she kept pacing with her rhythm and she got up in a good position as well,” Longo Borghini explained.
“It was about 500 metres before the GPM, and I just wanted to pace a bit more because I thought that [Inpa-Sottoli’s Tetiana] Riabchenko was about to sprint for the GPM, so I just kept speeding up and I suddenly felt myself alone. I just looked behind me and there was nobody – there was a bit of a gap – so I just kept going.
“I did the descent, and the part in between the two climbs, really fast. After two kilometres of la Planche des Belles Filles I saw that I had a big gap, so I just controlled. I didn’t go full gas because for me it made no sense. I’m here to prepare for the second part of the season, so I need to train, and I don’t want to just go crazy deep.”
Despite Longo Borghini pacing herself over the final kilometres of the climb, the Italian managed to hold off the attentions of Neben – a former Route de France winner and a two-time Tour de l’Aude winner – and 2009 Giro d’Italia winner Lichtenberg on the climb. With gradients touching 13% in the final kilometre, the Tour of Flanders winner rode within herself to take victory on the famous mountaintop finish.
“I did the first two kilometres quite hard, and when I saw the gap I can just manage myself,” she explained. “I could go – I won’t say easy – but for sure under my threshold uphill, and it was really good.”
Longo Borghini now leads the race by a minute and ten seconds over Neben, with Lichtenberg third at 1’18”, with only one stage to go, and looks set to win the biggest stage race of her career. Unsurprisingly, after leading the race over both 1st category climbs today, she also holds a commanding lead in the mountains classification.
With tomorrow’s final stage based on four laps of a 26km circuit, which includes the climb of the Col de Bannstein each time, the 23-year-old Italian is taking nothing for granted.
“For sure tomorrow we have to pay attention to the other teams because it is a tough race and rain is predicted,” she said. “We can always get in trouble, just because it is the last day it doesn’t mean it will go smooth. I think it will be completely the opposite, and they will start attacking us, so we really need to be focused and try to race as a team; as we have the whole week long.”
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Amber Neben (BePink-LaClassica)
3. Claudia Lichtenberg (Liv-Plantur)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson finished second in the 2015 Route de France for the second time, as she finished just behind compatriot Loren Rowney (Australian National Team), who had escaped in the complicated stage four finale. Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope) finished third, a second behind the two Australians, while Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini finished safely in sixth place, and holds onto her overall race lead as the race heads into its queen stage.
“I was in fourth wheel, behind two Optum girls who almost crashed, so I had to go up onto the footpath and do a standing start,” Edmondson said. “By that time I couldn’t think about a lead out or anything because Loren was jut too far in front. So I had an 800 metre attack, I guess, and I almost got her!”
The 103km stage, between Autun and Louhans Chateaurenaud, saw a number of crashes, including one in the peloton with 300 metres to go, but all six Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders made it through unscathed. There were also several attacks, but none were able to get clear until Silvia Valsecchi (BePink-LaClassica) escaped in the final 30km. The Italian was able to get 1’15” ahead before she was pulled back by hard work from Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling.
“Today the team plan was to keep Elisa in the yellow at the end of the day, and also hopefully have a bunch sprint and go for either Giorgia [Bronzini] or me,” Edmondson explained. “We were going to see how we feel. And then there were quite a few attacks throughout the race, and there was also a hill halfway through – so that was quite solid – but other than that it mostly stayed together until that BePink girl got away.”
“The gap went out quite quickly, so we put all our girls on the front. So we had Anna [Christian], Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] and Mayuko [Hagiwara] swapping off turns, and keeping it at a reasonable distance, before we had to bring it back quickly. And they managed to bring it back with 10km to go.
“Then it was up to Gio, myself and Elisa to make sure we stayed together, and in one piece for the final, to make sure there were no time gaps and keep Elisa in yellow. Obviously Gio and I were trying to set ourselves up for the win.
“Because my legs felt quite good we were going to work for me, but then it was quite messy, with a few corners in the last kilometres. We had to stay near the front, and luckily we were, although it came down to the last 800 metres and there was a corner to the right, and Loren Rowney went around it first.”
Because of some small splits in the peloton in the final bends, Longo Borghini actually extended her General Classification lead by two seconds. Tomorrow’s fifth stage heads into the Vosges mountains, to finish atop La Planche des Belles Filles (a climb that has featured in the men’s Tour de France on two occasions – with the 2012 and 2014 stages won by Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali) where time gaps are expected to be far bigger.
“Although I’m a little bit frustrated to come second again, I guess it was a pretty good result considering there was so much carnage,” said Edmondson. “There were a few crashes that we had to dodge; there was another one about 1.4km out. Gio managed to keep out of trouble, and Elisa managed to come in sixth; and she was helped out by Audrey, who’d just finished swapping off. Mayuko helped me out as well – she brought me up with about a kilometre and a half to go – so it was big team effort today. Although it was a bit messy we came out pretty good.
“Tomorrow it’s all about defending the yellow as we go into the mountains!”
1. Loren Rowney (Australian National Team)
2. Annette Edmondson (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini soloed into the overall race lead with a stunning victory in the third stage of the 2015 Route de France, between Nevers and Avallon. After escaping on the final climb of the day, the Italian Tour of Flanders winner crossed the line 13 seconds ahead of a 12-rider group, with Eugenia Bujak (BTC City Ljubljana) winning the sprint for second place, ahead of Brianna Walle (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mayuko Hagiwara was fourth.
Despite the lack of time bonuses, the gap was enough for Longo Borghini to take the yellow jersey from Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur), who crossed the line in fifth.
“Mayuko and me were free to attack on the local laps,” Longo Borghini explained. “Giorgia [Bronzini] was feeling good too, but she unluckily crashed on the downhill of the second last lap.
“I’m really happy to have won,” she smiled. “I still need to re-find my shape, and to heal from my back problems, but of course a victory gives me motivation.”
As she crossed the line, Longo Borghini pointed to the sky in tribute to her young Italian compatriot, Chiara Pierobon, who tragically lost her life while en route to the Sparkassen Giro earlier this month.
“I wanted to remember Chiara,” Longo Borghini said.
After two sprint-friendly stages – where Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson finished second in the first, and Giorgia Bronzini won the second – the 113km third stage of the Route de France was decidedly hillier. With a 4.6km finishing circuit, based on the climb to the finish, Longo Borghini was able to take her chance to attack.
“I tried at the second last lap, after the finish, but I found that I had two Liv-Plantur riders with me [race leader Pieters and Claudia Lichtenberg] so I couldn’t work,” she explained. “I did the same attack on the cobbles just after the finish at the last lap and I went really fast downhill because I knew it was technical.
“I was with Lichtenberg, and at the last kick uphill before the finish I attacked again and soloed to the finish.”
Her 13-second gap to the group that contained yellow jersey Pieters means that Longo Borghini goes into stage four with a two-second lead over the Dutch rider.
“I want to live day by day without pressure,” Longo Borghini said. “This stage is really good preparation for the upcoming World Cups, but of course I want to defend this jersey!”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini won the second stage of the 2015 Route de France, between Villemandeur and Bourges, in a close sprint finish. As it had been the day before – when Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson was narrowly beaten into second – the result was decided by a photo finish, as Bronzini just managed to push her front wheel over the line ahead of race leader Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur). Kimberley Wells (Australia) finished third, just ahead of Edmondson, who had led Bronzini into the finish.
“In the end there was some chaos in the last kilometres, but I was always with Nettie,” Bronzini said. “Elisa stretched the bunch, and Nettie pulled me in the sprint!”
With a predominantly flat parcours, just as it had been in stage one, there were few opportunities for riders to escape. Four riders managed to briefly form a breakaway, but were unable to build a meaningful lead over the speeding bunch.
Some exposed stretches of the course saw the peloton exposed to crosswinds, which allowed the stronger teams to split the peloton into three parts. The race came back together again in time for the finish, however, where Bronzini was escorted into the final metres.
“The race was very quiet,” Bronzini explained. “But there were some points where Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] and Elisa [Longo Borghini] could do a little effort when there was some wind from the side. We managed to hurt the others a little bit, but not enough…”
After a pan-flat prologue and two sprint stages, the Route de France’s parcours should turn more challenging for stage three, as the race heads towards the mountains. Tomorrow’s route, between Nevers and Avallon includes the first serious climbs of the race, with three laps of a circuit that features an uphill finish.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson missed out on victory by the narrowest of margins in the opening stage of the 2015 Route de France, between Avon and Briare, as she was beaten in a photofinish by Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur). The double track World Champion crossed the line just millimetres behind the British sprinter, at the end of the shortened, 109km stage, after having been led into the finishing straight by French teammate Audrey Cordon-Ragot. French sprinter Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope), while Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling) was fifth.
“We knew it was going to be technical, but no so technical, so it was a bit messy with a couple of kilometres to go,” Edmondson said afterwards. “Everybody thought there was still four kilometres to go, so there was a bit of miscommunication, but luckily Audrey saw me and she told me to hop on her wheel.
“I thought it was going to be a little bit too early, but all of a sudden we were at 2km to go, and because it was so technical she did a brilliant job taking me to about 500 metres to go. Then it was a little bit too early, so I had to decide whether to hit it and just go, or to use someone else’s lead out for the final 200 metres; so I chose the latter option. I reckon I went a little bit too late, in hindsight, but I managed to get second on the line, so that was pretty cool.”
“It was a photo finish,” the World Champion added. “I don’t know how close it was: I haven’t seen an arial shot. I was pretty certain that I got second, but I’m pretty good at throwing my bike – I’ve won a lot of races on the track from doing that – so I thought there might have been a slim chance that I’d got it. But I was pretty sure I got second.”
Thanks to her attacking style, in defiance of the almost completely flat parcours, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara was awarded the Most Aggressive Rider Prize at the end of the stage.
“It wasn’t very eventful. Most teams were happy with a bunch sprint,” Edmondson explained. “There were a few attacks throughout the race, but not much at all, but I didn’t mind that because it suits me.
“Mayuko attacked, but nothing got away. If she’d have got away then it would have put pressure on the other teams, which would have been good.”
With little in the way of challenging terrain, however, Hagiwara’s attempt to escape the peloton stood little chance of success on the flat roads south of Paris.
“French flat is different to Belgium and Holland flat,” Edmondson laughed. “It was rolling most of the day, and there were a couple of hills, but not enough to break it up.”
1. Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur)
2. Annette Edmondson (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope)
5. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling is both delighted and excited to announce that Emma Johansson has signed a two-year contract with the black and orange team, which will cover the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The 31-year-old from Sollefteå, Sweden, is a 12-time National Champion, and currently holds the blue and yellow cross jersey in both Road Race and Time Trial. In addition to her national titles, 2015 has seen Johansson take victory in the Spanish one-day Durango-Durango race, as well as her third overall title in the Thüringen Rundfahrt stage race in Germany.
Since 2013 she has been riding with the Australian Orica-AIS team, but looks forward to the fresh challenge that Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling will bring.
“I’m happy to announce that I will ride for the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team in 2016,” Johansson said. “After ten years as a professional cyclist and the three previous years with Orica-AIS, I feel I need new challenges. I have learned a lot professionally and personally during these last ten years, and I’m proud of the results I’ve achieved with the support of my teams. I plan to stop racing at the highest level of the sport following the 2016 season, and I’m confident that Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team is the best place for me to continue to learn and grow, even in my final season, so that I can call close to my career at my very best.”
Ever since taking the Silver Medal behind Great Britain’s Nicole Cooke at the Beijing Olympic Games of 2008, which made her a household name in her native Sweden, Johansson has consistently been one of the top riders in the women’s sport. Big victories include the 2009 Ronde van Drenthe and 2014 Trofeo Alfredo Binda World Cups; 2013 saw her win the Emakumeen Euskal Bira stage race in Spain, and finish the season as World Number One in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Rankings.
Basing herself in Belgium throughout the racing season, the Swedish rider has become an ambassador for the Flanders region, and is a perennial favourite for the Spring Classics; particularly those featuring cobbles, as her two victories in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and three podiums in the Ronde van Vlaanderen show.
Johansson has taken two Bronze Medals and one Silver Medal in the World Road Race Championships, finishing on the podium of both the two previous editions. She represented Sweden again in the London 2012 Olympic Games, finishing sixth in the Road Race, and more Olympic success will be her primary motivation in her first season with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling.
“The 2016 season is an Olympic year,” she explained, “and it’s no secret that Rio is my main goal alongside my typical objectives at the World Cup races and in the Spring Classics. I won a silver medal in Beijing, and I would love to stand on the podium again in Rio.”
With a team already full of big names, Johansson will take her place at Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling alongside riders like Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore, Italian Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini, Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara, Olympic Champion Dani King and former two-time Road Race Champion Giorgia Bronzini. Johansson will also ride alongside a compatriot for the first time in many years, in the form of former Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin.
“Emma is a really experienced professional who will bring strength in depth to our team and be an invaluable asset on her own terms, as well as a mentor to the younger team members as they develop their racing experience,” commented Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Owner and Manager Rochelle Gilmore.
Created in 2012 by former Commonwealth Champion Gilmore, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling has grown into one of the biggest teams in the women’s peloton. So far 2015 has brought the team numerous victories, including three of the six rounds of the Road World Cup – in which it currently leads the team classification – two stages of the Giro d’Italia, and five National Championships.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Eileen Roe was just unable to successfully defend her Great Britain Criterium Championships around the centre of Barnsley, Yorkshire, as she was beaten to the line by Nikki Juniper (Giordana-Triton). The 25-year-old Scottish rider, who has only just returned from a fractured bone in her hand, was forced to settle for Silver, while the podium was completed by teammate Amy Roberts, who had dominated the race with her constant attacks.
“It’s alright,” Roe smiled. “I’m obviously a bit disappointed to lose the jersey, but considering I broke my knuckle and had to ride with a cast on tonight, I suppose it’s quite good. I’m trying not to sound negative here; I am really happy with Silver, especially not having raced for six weeks.
“We were outnumbered a wee bit as well, because me and Amy were just by ourselves. She rode super as well! She was gone solo, and I wish she’d just kept it going for a wee bit longer because she would have broken them.”
With heavy rain falling throughout much of the race, the course – which featured a number of cobbled corners – was slippery, and the early part of the race was marred by several crashes. Both Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders managed to avoid any incident, however, as they battled the numerical superiority of Juniper’s Giordana-Triton team at the front.
“It started to rain and, because part of the course was on sort of slabs, they were really slippy,” Roe explained. “We were lucky not to come down I think, because lots of people did.
“Nikki’s had really good form this season, not just in the circuits but in road races too,” she said of new champion Juniper.
The Championship was Roe’s first race since her training crash in June that saw her fracture a bone in her hand and consign her to her indoor trainer for several weeks.
“I have to admit that I am missing that snap, and I did find jumping out of the corners and stuff a bit heavy,” she said. “I’ve been on the turbo for three weeks, so I’m maybe missing that bit of fitness in finishing it off.
“I’m happy with Silver, and if you’d offered it to me six weeks ago when I decked it in Belgium I’d have been really happy with it!”
Roberts’ attacks in the closing laps served to string out the front group, which fluctuated between four and eight, as riders were dropped and managed to rejoin. The final lap saw a far more tactical race, however, and Roe was just unable to come around Juniper on the uphill sprint to the line.
“It was alright. I tried,” Roberts said. “In the end Eileen and I were outnumbered. I wasn’t sure how I’d fare in a sprint, to be honest, and I haven’t done a crit for a while so I thought I might as well keep trying. It whittled it down, but we were still outnumbered; It came to a sprint, but I completely messed the sprint up. But overall it was pretty good. I could rely on Eileen not to chase it down; the others were chasing it down, which was a bit frustrating. At times we’d get a gap, but then their teammates would chase it down…
“It was good that Eileen and I both got on the podium. We’ve both had a few setbacks so overall it was okay. We didn’t get the stripes back, which is a bit gutting, and I obviously wanted to win quite a lot, but ‘oh well.’
“I tried, but it wasn’t to be.”
Roberts was part of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s team in Sunday’s La Course by Le Tour de France, in Paris, but was victim to one of the race’s many crashes.
“Paris was so frustrating, but this was alright,” she smiled. “You kind of got used to it with so many laps. There were a lot of crashes though. We tried to stay up the front, so we were out of danger as much as possible.”
Both Roe and Roberts will line up for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling on the Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace, for the Prudential RideLondon on Saturday. With their strong performances in the National Criterium, both will start the prestigious Olympic Legacy event with confidence.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday because the team’s a great line up,” said Roe. “Amy’s going really well, and I feel quite strong, so I think the team will come away with a result.”
“This gives me a bit of confidence,” Roberts added. “I felt quite good, so hopefully I can help out in London and we’ll see what happens.”
1. Nikki Juniper (Giordana-Triton)
2. Eileen Roe (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Amy Roberts (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
Photo Credit: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com