Fresh from her second position earlier today in the second edition of La Course by Le Tour de France, Belgium’s Jolien D’hoore has re-signed on a two year agreement with the 16 rider Wiggle Honda professional women’s cycling team. The team competes in elite road bicycle racing and track events, including the UCI Women’s Road World Cup and UCI World Championship and is based North of Brussels, Belgium.
Jolien, who joined Wiggle Honda for the 2015 season, has enjoyed great success this year, starting in January with victory in the Belgian National Omnium Championship. She currently stands at 5th position in the UCI women’s individual rankings with? wins this season including the Ronde van Drenthe World Cup, a stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour and? Omloop van Het Hageland
Of her decision to remain with Wiggle Honda Jolien says. “Since day one I have bonded with the others in the Wiggle Honda team, not just the other cyclists but the team management, too. We have a great team ethic and spirit and still have work to do in terms of what we wish to achieve together and I am delighted to know that I will be a part of this great team setup for at least the next two seasons.”
According to Rochelle Gilmore, Wiggle Honda Team Managing Director, “Jolien has done fantastically well this season and made great strides as a professional road cyclist. Her results stand for themselves and this plus her dedication to the success of the team made our decision to court her services for the next two seasons a no-brainer. It’s fantastic that she has agreed to extend her stay and work with us to achieve success beyond 2015.”
Wiggle Honda was founded by top Australian cyclist, Rochelle Gilmore in 2012 and is backed by the Bradley Wiggins Foundation, British Cycling and Cycling Australia.
The team’s two main sponsors are Wiggle, the world’s biggest online cycling and trisports retailer and car manufacturer Honda. As for personnel, the team with riders from nine countries is on its third line up and for 2015 this includes some of the biggest names and most successful and exciting riders in world cycling, including Great Britain’s Team Pursuit Olympic Track Champion Dani King; Italian road and track racing legend Giorgia Bronzini (with over 70 victories on the road to her credit); 11 times Japanese National Champion Mayuko Hagiwara, Amy Roberts, European Junior Track Cycling Champion in Team Pursuit and current Dual World Champion Nettie Edmondson from Australia.
Jolien D’hoore – Facts & Stats
Date of Birth: 14/03/1990
Place of Birth: Ghent, Belgium
Disciplines: Road, Track
2015 Ronde van Drenthe World Cup
2015 Omloop van Het Hageland
2015 Energiewacht Tour – Stage 1
2015 2nd La Course by La Tour de France
2015 2nd Overall The Women’s Tour
2015 2nd Overall Tour of Flanders
2014 1st Track World Cup Mexico (Omnium)
2014 5th stage Holland Ladies Tour
2014 Three stages (& overall) BeNe Ladies Tour
2014 Diamond Tour 2012 &
2014 Belgian National Road Champion
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore showed once again that she is one of the fastest sprinters in the World as she won the bunch sprint for second place in the 2015 edition of La Course by Le Tour de France. The Belgian Champion crossed the line comfortably clear of Liv-Plantur’s Amy Pieters, on the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysées, just one second behind breakaway winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv).
“Today was a bit hectic, and nervous racing, also because of the weather,” D’hoore explained. “It rained from the start, and also in the last lap it was hard to control the race and to get organised for the sprint, because of the weather.
“So that’s why Anna took her chance, and it was perfect for her. Everybody was looking at each other, and nobody really took on the responsibility. We, in the team, had difficulty finding each other in the final, and that’s why she could hold the gap. It was a good job of Anna van der Breggen, she was strong.”
Heavy rain in central Paris meant that the 89km course, run over 13 laps of the finishing circuit used by the men’s Tour de France, was extremely slippery. The race was punctuated by several crashes, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Amy Roberts, Emilia Fahlin, and even D’hoore herself brought down.
“It was just so slippery, and you couldn’t get full power on the pedals because you slipped away and you crashed,” D’hoore said. “It was difficult to race like that, and everybody was a bit scared on the bike; you could see it in the race.
“I came down in the fourth lap, or something, it was a really big crash. I’m okay, but I had to change bikes, because my bike was broken. It took a while, but luckily I could get back, because girls like [Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammates] Amy [Roberts] and Emilia [Fahlin] also crashed and they couldn’t get back.”
Despite several riders trying to escape the peloton on the glacial cobblestones, the sprinters’ teams managed to prevent anybody from opening up a meaningful gap. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson and Giorgia Bronzini were an almost constant presence at the front of the peloton, as the double Track World Champion, and former two-time Road World Champion policed the race on behalf of teammate D’hoore.
When van der Breggen attacked on the final lap, however, the Giro Rosa winner was able to open a small, but decisive lead on the cobbled drag up to the Arc de Triomphe. With the roads too slippery to organise a strong enough chase, van der Breggen was just able to hold off the sprinters all the way to the line.
“I was feeling really good, and I’m really fast in the sprint right now, but I was standing upright on the pedals and I could feel my back wheel slipping away,” D’hoore added. “It wasn’t the perfect sprint for me because it was wet, but I think that’s the same for everybody.
“I think that if it was dry then I could have done a more powerful sprint, but that’s bike racing.”
1. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Amy Pieters (Liv-Plantur)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling will be lining up alongside most of the other big names in Women’s Cycling on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées this Sunday, for the second edition of La Course by the Tour de France. The race will be run over 13 laps of the central Paris circuit, which will be covered by the finale of the three-week men’s race later in the day, making it one of the most prestigious in the women’s calendar.
With the race expected to finish in a bunch sprint, the black and orange team will be led by Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore, who dominated the recent BeNe Ladies Tour, with victory in three of the four stages.
“I’m excited to ride this weekend,” D’hoore said. “I rode it last year, it was the first time. It was an amazing event; the crowds were amazing, the crowds were really big. I really enjoyed it, so hopefully I will again this year.
D’hoore finished seventh in last year’s inaugural edition of the race, having been brought down by a crash in the later laps. The Belgian Champion is expecting no less a combative race this time, with the peloton racing on such a prestigious stage.
“Everybody wants to show themselves because it’s on television, so it’s quite nervous racing,” she explained.
“At the Giro I was riding in preparation for the coming races, I did my part of the job, I did my work, so it was really good. Last weekend I could show my form, and I felt really good, physically and mentally as well, so I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
Despite her current good form, with her BeNe Tour victories added to those taken at the Ronde van Drenthe World Cup and the Aviva Women’s Tour, as well as the successful defence of her Belgian title, D’hoore feels that there will be plenty of other riders in the peloton for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling to look out for.
“There are still a lot of other favourites, like Lisa Brennauer and Kirsten Wild,” she smiled. “You can’t tell who’s the big favourite, but anything can happen in that kind of race.”
Riding alongside D’hoore will be two-time former Road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini who, despite currently training for later season targets in the Italian mountains, will be there to support her teammates one hundred percent.
“It doesn’t come at a perfect moment for me, because I’m in the middle of a training camp, but of course I know it is a big priority for the team,” Bronzini said. “I will be able to race this really hard, and I hope that the team will be able to do a good race. I know that Jolien is in shape, and also the other girls.
“I also think that it’s important to put on a good show,” she added, “so maybe the people there can see that women’s cycling is exciting; and maybe someone can put some good money into our sport! Why not!”
Bronzini finished eleventh in last year’s event, having been baulked by the final kilometre crash that took down then French Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot and British hope Lizzie Armitstead. Because of this, the Italian former World Champion knows how tough this year’s event will be.
“I think it is an exciting race. It will be a hard race,” she said. “People think that it is flat, and just a simple crit, but it’s really heavy. Because on one side you’re going up, on the other side you’re going down, and there are the cobbles, there are really tight corners… so it’s not a simple race!
“Also everyone goes there in good shape, to try to do a good race, so there is a lot of fight.”
Two big names sadly missing from the line up will be Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot, who is still recovering from the fractured collarbone she sustained in the Giro Rosa, and last year’s winner Marianne Vos, who has called an end to her road season through persistent injury.
“I just feel sorry for Audrey, that she crashed and can’t do the race that she really cares about,” said Bronzini. “I hope the team can bring her a good satisfaction.
“We will miss Marianne Vos there,” she added. “But there are still a lot of good names for people to see.
“It will not be simple to win this race, but of course our team will be ready to fight. I’m confident, but I don’t want to say any more than that!”
Alongside D’hoore and Bronzini will be the Australian duo of Chloe Hosking and double Track World Champion Nettie Edmondson. Both come out of strong performances at the BeNe Tour, with Edmondson finishing in seventh place, and Hosking resuming her near-telepathic relationship with D’hoore that brought so much success in the Spring.
Former Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin will add her considerable power to the team’s line up, having recovered from an early summer illness to perform so well at the Giro Rosa, while the final place will be taken by young Welsh rider Amy Roberts, whose strength at the recent BeNe Tour contributed so much to D’hoore’s success.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” the 20-year-old enthused. “I only found out a couple of days ago that I’d be going, so it was quite a big shock! It’s going to be great. It sounds like such a big thing. Everyone always talks about it, what with the Tour finishing, so I’m really looking forward to it!”
Roberts has also had her season disrupted by injury, with a fractured collarbone sustained in late April forcing her to sit out most of the late spring. The Welshwoman returned for the Great Britain National Championships in late June, where she set much of the race alight with a long breakaway, before working so hard for her Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammates at the BeNe Tour.
“It was pretty annoying, but I couldn’t help it and I was going pretty well,” Roberts said of her collarbone injury. “Hopefully I’m coming back a bit now, getting used to the racing, so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can help out as much as possible, and to help the team do well.
“I’m pretty pleased to be going!”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team for La Course by Le Tour de France (26th July)
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Jolien D’hoore (Belgium), Annette Edmondson (Australia), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Chloe Hosking (Australia), Amy Roberts (Great Britain)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore wrapped up her overall victory in the 2015 BeNe Ladies Tour, as Chloe Hosking took third place on the final stage, in Zelzate, Belgium. Victory in the first three stages had given the Belgian Champion a commanding lead in the general classification and, with Alison Tetrick (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) taking the third stage in a solo break, D’hoore led out her teammate Hosking for the sprint for second place. The Australian was narrowly beaten to the line by British sprinter Lucy Garner, riding for the De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur mix team.
“Today was pretty hectic because everybody was looking at us, so it was hard to control the race,” D’hoore said. “There was a breakaway halfway through the race, and we had Nettie [Edmondson] in front, so for us that was perfect and the other teams had to chase. Lotto had to pull.
“Then the breakaway was caught, and there were some attacks, and in the end it was Alison Tetrick who was solo in front. Everybody again was looking at us, and Nettie did a lot of work, together with Amy [Roberts], and me and Chloe could save ourselves a bit for the final sprint.”
Tetrick, who started the day 1’07” behind D’hoore in the general classification, managed to get almost a minute clear, which might have given her the overall victory with the time bonus on the line. The Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rides refused to panic, however, and – working with the Lotto-Soudal team – were able to close her down to a more manageable margin on the approach to the finish.
In the end, Tetrick’s margin of victory was just 12 seconds, which meant that the American was no threat to D’hoore’s overall victory.
“In the end we couldn’t close the gap because we couldn’t do it alone, but it wasn’t necessary because if we kept the gap at 25 seconds, 30 seconds, we were safe; so that’s what we tried,” D’hoore explained. “She had 55 seconds, but [Directeur Sportif Egon van Kessel] told us not to panic, and to wait for the last ten kilometres to close the gap, because otherwise there could be other attacks if we catch her too early.
“We did what we were told to, and in the end I did the lead out for Chloe,” she added. “In the end we won the race, and we had third place with Chloe, so it was all good!”
D’hoore’s overall victory extends her near-perfect record in the new race, which skirts the Belgium-Netherlands border, after her two stage victories and second place overall in last year’s inaugural edition. 2014 saw the Belgian Champion narrowly lose to Emma Johansson, thanks to the Swedish Champion time trial victory, despite D’hoore winning both road stages.
“Last year I lost it by two seconds,” D’hoore confirmed. “This year was a lot better; I feel a lot stronger, and also with the support of my team it makes a big difference.”
This year was to be different, however, with D’hoore finishing the race 23 seconds ahead of Floortje Mackaij (De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur), and 46 seconds ahead of Italian Champion Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal) in third.
“I’ve been second a few times, like the Women’s Tour, but I don’t think I’ve won a stage race before,” D’hoore smiled.
1. Alison Tetrick (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
2. Lucy Garner (De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur)
3. Chloe Hosking (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
Final General Classification
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Floortje Mackaij (De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur)
3. Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders scored an incredible three wins in a single day today, as Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore won both stages 2a and 2b in the BeNe Ladies Tour, while Mayuko Hagiwara took the third stage of the Tour de Bretagne in western France. D’hoore, who won stage one yesterday, now has a perfect record in the three-day race on the Belgian/Netherlands border, and holds a commanding overall lead going into the final day tomorrow.
“The time trial was a bit unexpected,” D’hoore smiled. “I didn’t know I could win it, and then the road race this afternoon we did an amazing teamwork. We did a perfect race; controlled the race with only four girls; everybody did an amazing job!”
As race leader, by virtue of her stage win yesterday, D’hoore started the time trial in Sint Lauriens, Belgium, close to the border with the Netherlands, as last rider. The fastest time had been set by Duyck, who covered the 6.3km course in a time of eight minutes and 23 seconds. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson was in provisional fourth place, just 10 seconds behind Duyck, but D’hoore was to go even faster, and finished 2 seconds faster.
“The time trial was only six kilometres, and the Belgian Champion Ann-Sophie Duyck had the fastest time, but I could beat her by just two seconds,” D’hoore confirmed. “It wasn’t much, but it was enough!”
The afternoon’s 101.3km road race followed a similar course to the previous day, although it contained far fewer cobblestones. A two-rider break managed to escaped midway through but, as soon as they began to threaten D’hoore’s overall lead, the riders of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling set to work to pull them back.
“We had a cobbled section of 1.1km,” D’hoore explained. “It was not too bad. Yesterday we had more cobbles.
“There were two girls out front, and they had about 50-55 seconds” she continued. “Then Nettie and Chloe [Hosking] started working. We didn’t have much support from the other teams – there was Lotto, but the girls did most of the job. In the finish I just had to follow Chloe, that was all!
“They didn’t try anything today,” D’hoore said of her sprint rivals. “It wasn’t easy, but I expected more from them.”
Her time trial victory, as well as time bonuses at the finish line and at intermediate sprints, mean that D’hoore goes into the third and final day with a lead of 22 seconds over of Mackaij. With six riders within a minute of the Belgian Champion – including her own teammate Edmondson – D’hoore will have to remain vigilant, but remains confident of holding on to her blue jersey.
“I just have to go for the intermediate sprints anyway, and then we will see for the final,” she said. “The whole team is confident.
“We had a big winning day today, and also with Mayuko, so we’re really happy about it!”
Hagiwara is Tour of Bretagne riding as part of a Reva Cycling Ladies mix team, which was to include Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s local rider Audrey Cordon-Ragot had she not fractured her collarbone in the Giro Rosa. The Japanese Champion escaped the peloton with late in the 124km stage, between Plédran and Yffiniac, and managed to hold off the chase all the way to the finish.
“This team is Audrey’s local team, but we missed her from her injury in the Giro,” Hagiwara explained. “It was big loss for us but she came to the race today and gave advice, a lot of information of the race. It is one of the big reasons that I could win today. In stages one and two, I was suffering from fatigue after the Giro, but today I change mind, and remembered Audrey’s advice
“Until the local lap, the bunch was still big,” the Japanese champion continued. “Then, with four laps of the local lap to go, a breakaway happened on the climb. There were eight riders, with three from the Russian team, but I could jump to the group and then I counterattacked.
“Nobody followed me and I just tried to keep going until the finish line.”
The victory is Hagiwara’s second in the space of nine days, following her historic stage win at the Giro Rosa. It is also her second podium in Brittany this season, after her third place in the Grand Prix Plumelec-Morbihan back in May.
“I am really appreciate that my mix team and Audrey,” she said. “I really appreciate that I can ride with them on this race.
“Also in the race I hear Audrey’s cheering on the road,” Hagiwara added. “I rode for her today because if she was there, she would possibly become the winner. I really hope she comes back soon and for sure she will come back stronger.”
Result BeNe Ladies Tour Stage 2a
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Ann-Sophie Duyck (Topsport Vlaanderen-ProDuo)
3. Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
Result BeNe Ladies Tour Stage 2b
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Floortje Mackaij (De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur)
3. Sara Mustonen (Sweden)
Result Tour de Bretagne Feminin Stage 3
1. Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products)
3. Ilaria Sanguinetti (BePink-La Classica)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore won the opening stage of the 2015 BeNe Ladies Tour, in Philippine, Belgium, close to the Netherlands border, after escaping in a group of four with teammate Chloe Hosking. Floortje Mackaij, riding for the De Jonge Renner/Liv-Plantur mixed team, finished second, with Italian Champion Elena Cecchini (Lotto-Soudal) in third. Having worked hard to lead out Belgian Champion D’hoore, Hosking crossed the line in fourth place, eight seconds behind, with Mackaij’s teammate Lucy Garner leading the peloton across the line after 24 seconds.
“It was a short stage, but it was a good stage!” D’hoore laughed.
The 78km stage was made up of two long, 33.4km laps, followed by a short, 9.9km finishing circuit. D’hoore and Hosking managed to join a breakaway in the opening lap, but the decisive break was to come on lap two.
“We tried to split the bunch from the start, because there was a crosswind,” D’hoore explained. “It didn’t work it out, so I tried again on the cobbled section. We got away, but it came back together again for the first intermediate sprint – luckily I took the seconds – and then the race exploded on the second lap because there was an attack from Chloe on the cobbled section.
“Floortje Mackaij followed, with Elena Cecchini, and then me,” she added. “That’s where we got away.”
Once clear the four riders worked well together, despite their being two from Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, and between them they managed to hold off the chase from the peloton behind them.
“The gap after the cobbled section was about 20 seconds,” said D’hoore. “The cooperation in our group was really good, and the gap went up to about 30 seconds. Then we came to the sprint, and I thought that Cecchini or Mackaij would try something to avoid the sprint, but they just stayed in the wheel and didn’t try anything. I was a bit surprised by that, but it was good for us!”
D’hoore came into the BeNe Tour after riding the Giro Rosa, while Hosking has been away from racing since the Philadelphia Classic in early June. Despite the two riders’ different paths to the race, however, the partnership that was the foundation for so much success in the Spring – including D’hoore’s victories in the Omloop van Het Hageland, the Ronde van Drenthe, and at the Energiewacht Tour – clicked back into place almost immediately.
“In the Giro I did my work for the team, and then when it was uphill I was just in the gruppetto,” D’hoore explained. “I just did my kilometres, and I did some proper training, and then I pulled out of the race in the last two days. I got some good recovery, so actually it was really perfect as preparation for the rest of the season.
“I’m really happy she’s back,” D’hoore said of teammate Hosking. “We could understand each other perfectly in the race, and she was really good for a first race back – as well as the other girls!”
Also in the team were double track World Champion Nettie Edmondson and 20-year-old Welsh rider Amy Roberts. Like Hosking, both riders returned from long periods away from racing, with Edmondson taking a break after the Aviva Women’s Tour, and Roberts having recovered from a fractured collarbone. Both were able to contribute to the team’s success, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling working to make the race uncomfortable for the other teams in the race.
“Egon told us to make the race hard, and the perfect place to do it is on the cobbled section,” D’hoore smiled.
D’hoore’s victory earns the Belgian Champion both the Overall Leader’s jersey, and that of the Points Classification leader. The 25-year-old will start tomorrow’s short, stage 2b time trial last and, thanks to the short distance, hopes to hold on to her race lead into the afternoon’s stage 2b road race.
“Last year the TT was about nine kilometres, and this year it’s a bit more than six, so it should suit me more than the one from last year,” she confirmed.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott raised herself to a final second place overall in the 2015 Giro Rosa, with a stunning, solo stage victory on the ninth stage, between Verbania and the ski resort of San Domenico di Varzo. The 29-year-old American, who finished second on the corresponding stage last year, escaped Pink Jersey Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) in the last four kilometres of the long, steep climb, to cross the line 55 seconds ahead of the Dutchwoman.
The victory was enough to lift Abbott three places in the General Classification, but van der Breggen held on to her Pink Jersey to take victory by a minute and a half. Former Pink Jersey Megan Guarnier finished the stage in fourth place, and took the final place on the overall podium.
“This was a really amazing way to finish the Giro,” Abbott enthused after her victory. “I am so grateful to the team for having faith in me until the end.
“The whole team was amazing, they took care of me all day,” she added. “I was very proud to be following Giorgia Bronzini’s wheel! It meant a lot to me.”
The 92.7km stage featured several early attacks, but it was not until late on that a group of eleven riders got away. In this break was Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Stage Six Winner Mayuko Hagiwara, unselfishly looking after her teammates interests as usual. The Japanese Champion’s group was just over a minute clear when the final climb began.
The breakaway group was soon passed by the leaders of the race, whereupon Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini began to put pressure on the others on behalf of teammate Abbott. Despite racing on her home roads, and defending her Blue Jersey for the Best Italian Rider, the 23-year-old Tour of Flanders winner began to split the group of overall favourites.
“Elisa put in some amazing attacks at the start of the climb and, when I saw the other riders starting to gap each other, I went,” Abbott explained. “With about seven or eight kilometres to go van der Breggen and I went, and then I got away from her with about four kilometres to go.”
With a deficit of two minutes, 29 seconds to van der Breggen at the start of the day, Abbott knew she literally had a mountain to climb to take her third overall Giro Rosa victory, but gave her all in one last-ditch effort to unseat the Dutchwoman on the steep climb to the finish.
“I knew that there was a big gap to win the overall, but anything can happen,” Abbott said. “I’m really happy to get the team on the podium for the overall.”
Having given everything she could for Abbott, Longo Borghini herself finished the stage in 13th place, six minutes and five seconds behind her Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate. Despite having to overcome a physical problem in the closing stages of her fourth Giro Rosa, the Italian finished the race in eighth place overall, and took the Blue Jersey for a second straight year.
“Of course I’m happy to have taken the Blue Jersey, and to finish in the top ten after the problem I had with my leg,” Longo Borghini said. “Today we won the stage with Mara, and she moved up to second in the GC.
“I’m really proud of my team!”
Photo Credit (pics 1, 2, 3 & 5): Sonoko Tanaka
Result Stage 9
1. Mara Abbott (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv)
3. Flavia Oliveira (Alé-Cipollini)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott lifted herself up to fifth overall in the General Classification of the 2015 Giro Rosa in today’s Individual Time Trial, between Pisano and Nebbiuno. The former two-time American Champion completed the 21.7km course in a time of 37 minutes, 50.45 seconds, to finish seventh on the stage, just one minute and 45 seconds behind winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv).
Van der Breggen’s ride put the Dutch Time Trial Champion into the Pink Jersey, while Abbott now sits two minutes, 29 seconds behind with just the final stage to the steep mountaintop finish at San Domenico di Varzo to come.
“I was able to come to Italy early for the race and spend some time training on the course,” Abbott said afterwards. “I loved it, and I was excited to come back here all week.”
Like many of the riders in the event, the technical course saw Abbott elect not to ride her Colnago K-Zero time trial bike, but use her usual road bike instead.
“It was a course with enough up and down, and technical sections, that it didn’t make sense to me to go on a TT bike,” Abbott explained. “I had decided that last week already. I felt quite pleased to see the others making the same selection!”
Although Abbott concedes that her 2’29” deficit to van der Breggen will make overall victory in the 2015 Giro very difficult to achieve, the two-time winner refuses to concede until the race is finally over. Her two victories, in 2010 and 2013, were achieved through her climbing talents – including a stage victory on San Domenico in 2013 – and she finished second on the corresponding stage last year.
“This race certainly doesn’t have a parade day for the final stage this year,” she said. “It’s going to keep it up until the last kilometre, and I’m excited!”
Elisa Longo Borghini finished the stage in 20th place, two minutes, 47.04 seconds behind van der Breggen, and now sits in sixth place overall, three minutes and one second behind, as the race heads to her home roads tomorrow. The 23-year-old leads the Blue Jersey Classification for the Best Italian Rider by a considerable margin, and looks set to claim it for a second consecutive year.
“I didn’t feel all that good today, so I’m a little bit disappointed,” Longo Borghini said. “Of course it is nice to still have this jersey, but we came to the Giro to take the pink one, and we will give everything again tomorrow.”
The final stage will start from Longo Borghini’s hometown of Verbania, and climb to the 1400-metre-high ski resort at San Domenico. With her own local knowledge, alongside Abbott’s experience on the climb, Longo Borghini is confident that Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling will be among the protagonists.
“Tomorrow will be a nice stage,” Longo Borghini confirmed. “It will be very good for Mara.”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Mara Abbott remain close to the top of the General Classification of the 2015 Giro Rosa, as the race heads into its decisive final weekend. The two black and orange riders finished fifth and seventh respectively alongside the other big names of the race at the end of the seventh stage, between Arenzano and Loano, two minutes and 41 seconds behind lone winner Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv).
Longo Borghini now sits fourth overall, and best Italian rider, just 31 seconds behind race leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), while Abbott sits 30 seconds further back in sixth. Unfortunately, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Stage Six winner Mayuko Hagiwara crashed on a descent, the Japanese Champion was able to continue, and finished the stage, but slipped down the General Classification.
“Today it was a really hard day,” Longo Borghini said, after pulling on her Blue Best Italian Jersey. “There was a first category climb, which I managed to pass with the Maglia rosa group, together with Mara. Then some other riders came back, including Mayuko who went into a breakaway, but unfortunately she crashed on the descent.
“I dropped from the five that were in the Maglia Rosa group, but Mara was still in there,” she continued. “I rode at my own pace up the last three kilometres of the last climb, and then I was able to come back on the descent.”
The last two remaining stages of the race will consist of 21.7km individual time trial between Pisano and Nebbiuno, to the west of Milan, on Saturday, followed by a 92.7km road stage between Verbania and the mountaintop finish at San Domenico di Varzo. As a native of Verbania, Longo Borghini will be racing on her home roads this weekend, but won’t be able to show her National Champion’s Time Trial Jersey that she wore in last week’s Ljubljana, Slovenia, Prologue.
“I won’t wear my tricolore because I’ve got the blue jersey,” Longo Borghini explained. “If things had gone differently I might have been higher in the GC at this moment, but for now I feel okay like this.
“Racing at home is nice, but when the road goes up there’s no extra motivation or anything like that,” she added. “You can’t hide, and if you’re not strong enough you drop.”
Abbott’s two Giro victories, in 2010 and 2013, were built upon her stage victories in the high passes of the Italian Alps. After climbing with the best in the race on all the uphill stages so far, however, the former two-time American Champion is also looking ahead to Saturday’s time trial.
“It was a tough day,” she said of Friday’s 89.7km stage in the hills above the Ligurian coast. “All the teams worked hard and the course was really tough. I’m really proud that we were able to finish strongly with Elisa and I in the front bunch.
“I had confidence that Elisa would make it back, but when I heard the official blowing his whistle in the car behind us it was a great noise!” she added.
“I got a chance to see the time trial before the race, and it’s a really nice course,” Abbott concluded. “I’m really looking forward to it!”
Podium Photo Credit: Sonoko Tanaka
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mayuko Hagiwara made history in the sixth stage of the 2015 Giro Rosa, between Tresivio and Morbegno, as she became the first ever Japanese rider to win a stage of Women’s Cycling’s Grand Tour. Having been on the attack for most of the 104km stage, the Japanese Champion escaped the group of overall race favourites at the foot of the final climb, and managed to hold off a fierce chase to the finish. Pink jersey Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) took the sprint for second place, 24 seconds behind Hagiwara; South African Champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Bigla) finished third with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Mara Abbott safely in the group behind her.
“Today was a very hard day, but today my job was to go in the attack if possible and make it hard for the other teams,” Hagiwara said afterwards. “So I tried my best, and it was good! Still I can’t believe it, but tomorrow there is also a race, and there are three hard stages left, so now my head is only for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and Sunday.”
As such a hard worker for her teammates, Hagiwara usually plays a huge part in the victories of others. Taking the biggest international victory of her career, however, she could scarcely believe it, as she covered her face with her hand in happiness as she crossed the line.
“It was very special for me, and a very big result,” she said. “But today was really for teamwork, and I didn’t care if I was caught. Until the finish line I thought the bunch would catch me, because they were only a few seconds behind and are strong riders. But I didn’t care because Elisa and Mara were there, and I can do my best and my all.”
The sixth stage was to be the first of the race that featured serious, challenging climbs, with two of second category and one of first category. Hagiwara escaped on the very first climb, inside the first 15km, along with five other riders and, having started the day just one minute and one second behind Guarnier, was very soon the virtual Pink Jersey on the road.
“It was my job today,” Hagiwara explained, “just to give my all for the team, that’s how I could give everything today.”
With a lead of more than three and a half minutes at the midpoint of the stage, it looked for a while as though this group was to be able to stay away to the finish. Slowly, however, the Pink Jersey group began to pull the leaders back, and reduced it to under two minutes as they approached the first category climb to Sondrio.
At this point Longo Borghini attacked the Pink Jersey group, along with Moolman Pasio, and managed to make contact with the leaders. The race came together just before they hit the foot of the climb, however, but this was where Hagiwara was to strike again.
“We worked hard because we wanted to make the gap bigger,’ Hagiwara said. “But on the final climb we were together, so I tried an attack and no one followed me, so I was alone and gave everything. I wanted to make it harder for the other teams.”
Attacking solo this time, the Japanese Champion was more than two minutes ahead with 25km to go, and the virtual race leader once again. This was reduced to 1’46” as she crested the top of the climb, and was down to just 46 seconds as she hit the final, flat 10km to the finish.
Despite the strength of the chase, which contained five members of the Rabo-Liv team, and three of Boels-Dolmans, the four-time former Japanese Time Trial Champion held them off all the way to the line. The 24-second gap, along with the 10-second time bonus, saw Hagiwara rise to seventh place overall, and now trails Guarnier by just 33 seconds.
Crossing the line in the group behind Guarnier, Longo Borghini rises to fourth overall, just 25 seconds back, and retains her blue jersey as the Best Italian Rider in the race. Abbott too rises to eighth place, just 53 seconds behind her American compatriot.
Despite her high overall position, however, and despite her stage victory, Hagiwara remains focused on her role in helping her teammates to their own success as usual.
“From tomorrow maybe there will be more big gaps because it is a hard stage, and then there is an individual time trial, and Sunday is a mountain finish,” the Japanese Champion explained. “So still I will do my best for the team, to win the GC. Only Mara and Elisa can possibly win.”
1. Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Bigla)