Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling is sending eight of its strongest riders to the Giro d’Italia Femminile – the Giro Rosa – with the expectation of a strong showing in the ten-day race. The Giro, which begins with a short prologue in the city centre of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, will feature stages across all different types of terrain, with the race finally finishing at the summit of San Domenico di Varzo in the north east of Italy.
The black and orange team will be led by two-time race winner Mara Abbott, along with Tour of Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini, who finished fifth in last year’s edition as the best Italian rider. As well as the general classification, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling will be hunting for stage victories, with two-time former World Champion Giorgia Bronzini and Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore two of the fastest sprinters in the peloton.
The team will contain more National Champions in the form of Japanese Mayuko Hagiwara, Spanish Anna Sanchis and Audrey Cordon-Ragot, along with former Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin. As well as looking for their own chances, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders are some of the hardest-working and aggressive in the peloton, and will be looking to make the race on all terrains.
“I am so excited for it to be Giro time again this year,” Abbott said. “This race is special because it is now our only stage race with truly big mountains, but the atmosphere and excitement of the race make it even more special. Taking part in this race has a magic of participating in something extraordinary that I haven’t seen at any other competition.
“I am so proud to be on such a strong team as well,” Abbott added. “I am honoured to get to be on the roster with these girls. I can’t wait!”
“The Giro Rosa is obviously a big event for me because it’s the biggest stage race of the calendar and it’s in my home country,” Longo Borghini said. “There are also some stages in my province which I love and I can’t wait to race on my roads.
“I really like this race and I hope the team can do well in these 10 hard days!”
“I’m ready for the Giro, and I’m excited too!” she said. “I’m confident in my team and I wish to give to the sponsor and team manger some wins!
“I think that every rider that will be there will be important for the main goal,” Bronzini added, “and I’m confident also for the good atmosphere with the girls and the staff!”
“The Giro arrives; I think is the most beautiful race during the year,’ she said. “One of the hardest and with special magic. It’s one of my favourites and every year it is one of the main objectives.
“This year, we have a very strong team, and I hope to help my teammate Mara Abbot to win her third GC.”
“It will be my second Giro,” D’hoore confirmed. “I have a hate-love relationship with this race. It’s a hard race especially if you’re not a climber but I love the atmosphere around it. Even though you’re suffering, you’re enjoying it at the same time.
“I hope to do my work for the team and help my teammates wherever I can.”
“I’m very happy that I can wear the Japanese jersey in the Giro again,” she said “It’s very important for me, and very special for me too.”
“So it’ s my second Giro, I had a really good one last year,” Cordon-Ragot said. “I was tenth until three days to go, after a really good first hard stage.
“I’m not a specialist of the long climbs but I can help Elisa and Mara at the beginning,” Cordon-Ragot continued. “I think we have a really good team, really complete and strong,we can play several cards.
“I like racing in Italy, the public, the sun and media coverage is awesome. We will have a part of the supporters with us with our two Italians, I can wait to live it with my fabulous team.”
“I’m really excited to be on the start line for the Giro!” she exclaimed. “Firstly because it’s been a while forced out of racing for me, and it was hard to have to miss nationals, so I’m itching to get back with the girls and to race again!
“It’s definitely one of the races during all year with a good, positive atmosphere around and I look forward to all that,” she added. “I think we have a very strong team with contenders for every type of stage, as well as the GC, so I’m hoping to support the girls at my very best every day.
“Bring it on.”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling line up for the Giro Rosa (3rd-12th July)
Mara Abbott (United States), Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Jolien D’hoore (Belgium), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Mayuko Hagiwara (Japan), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Anna Sanchis(Spain)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mayuko Hagiwara and Jolien D’hoore have both successfully defended their titles in the Japanese and Belgian National Road Race Championships respectively. Both riders went into the races as favourites and, as the only ones representing the black and orange jersey, found themselves heavily marked. Both riders managed to overcome this pressure, however, and both took their victories in sprints from reduced pelotons.
“It’s a very very special and happy feeling because this course was not so hilly and in the end it was a sprint,” Hagiwara said. “I didn’t expect that I could win, but I could win, so I’m very happy.”
As a teammate of such champion sprinters as D’hoore, former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini, and Australians Nettie Edmondson and Chloe Hosking, top climber Hagiwara feels that she must have picked up some finishing technique somewhere along the line.
“I never thought I could sprint, but today I could do!” Hagiwara laughed. “A Japanese sprint!”
As the overwhelming favourite, thanks to her victory in four of the last five Japanese Road Race Championships, Hagiwara was constantly watched by the mostly domestic peloton in Otowara, but was able to beat them at their own game at the finish. Time Trial Champion Eri Yonamine (Saxo Bank FX Securities) was second, and Hiromi Kaneko (Iname Shinano Yamagata) was third.
“It was a typical Asian race,” she explained. “Everyone was very slow because the circuit was not so hard. It was maybe hard for four or five laps, but nobody tried to attack. If I moved, everyone followed. If Eri Yonamine – she won the time trial and is also strong – if she went to go, everyone followed. And if maybe two or three riders go: if I don’t go, everyone stopped.
“One time three riders got a gap of two minutes and it was a little bit nervous. But I just waited, and watched Yonamine Eri; I used her a lot, and I waited, waited, waited. In the end I tried to do something, and just to sprint in the final.
“It was a very difficult race, and I had to use my head a lot!” she added.
Although she lost her time trial title to Yonamine last week, Hagiwara has retaken the jersey that she will wear on most days in Europe, and is looking forward to proudly showing her country’s flag in the biggest races again.
“I’m very happy that I can wear the Japanese jersey again – in the Giro also – it’s very important for me, and very special for me too,” she smiled.
In Tervuren, to the east of the Belgian capital, Brussels, D’hoore also found herself watched by a peloton dominated by the big Belgian teams. Despite the attention her status as a defending champion with a World Cup victory her name this season, the 25-year-old managed to roll with the punches and use her devastating sprint on the finishing straight. Lotte Kopecky (Topsport Vlaanderen Pro-Duo) was second, with Sofie De Vuyst (Lensworld-Zanatta) third.
“The race wasn’t that easy for me. It was quite hard,” D’hoore explained. “I had no support of teammates, so everybody was riding on my wheel. When I wanted to attack they were on my wheel and they didn’t take over; it was quite difficult sometimes…”
In a race peppered with attacks – with D’hoore herself getting into a dangerous looking group midway through – it was nevertheless mostly kept under control by the sprinters’ teams. A big move from Jessie Daams (Lotto-Soudal) inside the final 30km threatened to foil the fast-finishers, but she was eventually chased down in the closing stages.
“There was one girl that got away in the final – Jessie Daams – and I thought she would win,” said D’hoore. “But then suddenly some teams started to ride again, and they closed the gap quite quickly. Then they caught her back with 1km to go, so it was a bunch sprint; well, a sprint with a group of maybe 30-35 riders.”
“I wasn’t confident because I did a lot of work in the race,” she continued. “When there were attacks I had to go with them because I was the only one from the team. So I did a lot of work, I couldn’t save myself for the sprint. I hoped I had something left for the end, and I had, so I’m happy about that!
“I heard Mayuko won her championship, and Anna too. So it’s looking good for the Giro with all the the Champions’ jerseys!” D’hoore laughed.
Result Japanese Road Race Championships
1. Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Eri Yonamine (Saxo Bank FX Securities)
3. Hiromi Kaneko (Iname Shinano Yamagata)
Result Belgian Road Race Championships
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Lotte Kopecky (Topsport Vlaanderen Pro-Duo)
3. Sofie De Vuyst (Lensworld-Zanatta)
Japanese Championship Photo Credit: Sonoko Tanaka
Belgian Championship Finish Photo Credit: Marc Van Hecke/sportfoto.be
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Anna Sanchis completed the double at the Spanish National Championships, adding victory in the Road Race to that taken in yesterday’s time trial. The 27-year-old from Valencia confirmed her return to the top of the sport, following last year’s virus-hit season, with an emphatic sprint on the uphill finishing straight in Cáceras, in the east of Spain, close to the border with Portugal. 2013 Champion Ane Santesteban (Inpa Giusfredi) finished second, ahead of Alicia Gonzalez (Asturiana), one second behind Sanchis’ victory celebration.
“I’m so happy!” Sanchis exclaimed. “I didn’t think I could win today. I’m not really fast in the sprint, but it was an uphill sprint and it was okay; I won!”
Having held both the Road Race and Time Trial in 2012, and the Time Trial in 2013, Sanchis’ retaking of the double title again confirmed that she is once again over the problems that dogged her last season.
“It’s really really good!” she laughed. “I’m very, very happy!”
The 111km race saw a group of seven riders escape the peloton, and build up a substantial lead. Sanchis soon joined a chase group of six, however, which steadily reeled them in over the rolling parcours. The break was finally caught with just 300 metres to go, but Sanchis had not been worried about the possibility of those riders remaining clear.
“I know that the strongest girls were not in the breakaway, so everyone in the chase was controlling ourselves,” she explained. “In the end we decided to work together to bring back the breakaway, and at the finish it was really fast.
“It was a really, really hard sprint,” Sanchis explained. “Today it was really hot, it was more than 40 degrees. Every girl was really tired, the race was really affected because of the heat, but in the end I felt really good. I had a lot of power in my legs, I couldn’t feel the affects of yesterday.”
Sadly, in Italy and France, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon-Ragot were just unable to add Road Race titles to the Time Trial ones that they both hold. Both riders took the Silver Medals in their respective championships behind solo breakaway riders.
Riding in the colours of the Fiamme Oro, Longo Borghini went into the Italian Championships as the outstanding favourite, but was just unable to catch defending champion Elena Cecchini (Fiamme Azurre) on the steep uphill finish to Superga, near Turin, despite passing the rest of what had been a 12-rider break. The 23-year-old Tour of Flanders winner crossed the line just 21 seconds behind Cecchini, with Dalia Muccioli (Alé-Cipollini) another two seconds back in third.
“I was riding on the front from kilometre 40,” Longo Borghini explained. “I had to chase, together with a teammate. I chased for almost 80km, and I tried to do my best on the climb, but I didn’t catch her.
“She was riding with the FIamme Azurre, who were seven, and we were only two. The race is always strange, and in the end this break went away and nobody would work with us; even teams that had nobody in the break.
“I’m pretty happy that Cecchini won, because she’s a strong rider. But I wanted the nationals, I wanted the tricolore. I didn’t want anything else this season. It was really important for me, and I really wanted to win. I thought I was the strongest, but sometimes the smartest wins.”
With the Giro d’Italia on the horizon, Longo Borghini’s outstanding form will make her one to watch on any terrain. The 23-year-old cannot hide her disappointment that she won’t be lining up at the start of the road stages wearing the flag of her country.
“I had pretty good legs,” she confirmed. “I went away when I wanted, even after I had chased for 80km, but I’m just really sad not to win. Sometimes you just have to say the truth: it’s not only flowers all the time.”
In Chantonnay, France, Cordon-Ragot also found herself chasing alone, as World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo-Liv) escaped in the second half of the race with Amélie Rivat (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope) and Fanny Leleu (Normandie). The 25-year-old managed to catch both Rivat and Leleu, eventually dropping the Normandie rider, but was unable to close down Ferrand Prevot.
The Rabo-Liv rider eventually crossed the line, to take her second straight French Road Race title, two minutes ahead of the sprint for second place, where Cordon-Ragot was easily able to outpace Rivat to take the Silver Medal.
Spanish Championship Photo Credit: Luis Angel Gómez/Ciclismo a Fondo
Result Spanish Road Race Championships
1. Anna Sanchis (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Ane Santesteban (Inpa Giusfredi)
3. Alicia Gonzalez (Asturiana)
Result Italian Road Race Championships
1. Elena Cecchini (Fiamme Azurre)
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Fiamme Oro)
3. Dalia Muccioli (Alé-Cipollini)
Result French Road Race Championships
1. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo-Liv)
2. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Amélie Rivat (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Anna Sanchis reclaimed the Spanish National that she held in 2012 and 2013 with a dominant display over the hilly course in Cáceres, in the west of the country, close the the border with Portugal. The 27-year-old from Valencia completed the 26km in a time of 36 minutes, 21 seconds, in an average speed of 42.916kph, to beat Sheyla Gutierrez (Lointek) by 59 seconds. Defending champion Leire Olaberria (Fullgas) was third, another 21 seconds back.
“I feel really good. I felt good in the Emakumeen Bira, and then at home I trained really well,” said Sanchis, who had finished as best Spanish rider in the Basque stage race earlier this month. “I felt good every day, no allergy problems; which is probably the most important, because sometimes I can’t train for that! But now I feel okay!
“Yesterday, when I saw the parcours, I thought it was very, very good for me, because it was really hard. 26km, but really, really hard at the end, where there were two little climbs. When I saw it yesterday I said ‘tomorrow I can win!’”
As one of Spain’s most talented riders Sanchis had to endure a torrid 2014, with a serious virus preventing her from performing at anything close to her best. Her results in Bira, and now the reclaiming of her time trial title, hopefully confirm that the 27-year-old Valenciana is returning to top form.
“Last year I had a virus and I didn’t arrive here very good,” Sanchis explained. “But yesterday I told [Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team Manager Rochelle Gilmore] that I can do a good time trial, and I did today. I felt good at the start, from the first K, and I’m happy!”
With her Rojigualda Spanish flag jersey secured in the time trial, Sanchis now faces the prospect of trying to win back the road race title that she had also taken in 2012. As the only representative of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling on the start line, however, she knows that it will be far from easy.
“Tomorrow we have the road race, but this is a little bit more difficult for me, because I am alone and a lot of people have teams,” Sanchis explained. “It’s not easy, but I will try. The course is not very hard, and the big problem is that I am alone, but I will try and… maybe!”
Meanwhile, in Postel, near Mol in the province of Antwerp, Belgium, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore took the Silver Medal in the Belgian Time Trial Championships, in an event she last entered in 2010. The 25-year-old, who will defend her Road Race Championship on Sunday finished one minute, 41 seconds behind defending champion Ann-Sophie Duyck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Pro-Duo), and seven seconds ahead of Sofie De Vuyst (Lensworld-Zanatta).
“It wasn’t really a goal,” D’hoore said afterwards. “I just came here to test my legs for Sunday, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
As a sprinter, and Classics specialist, D’hoore was not expecting to be able to take the black, yellow and red time trial jersey from Duyck, who finished just 24 seconds shy of last year’s World Championships podium in Ponferrada, Spain.
“She was fifth in the Worlds, and she’s really at World class level in the time trial, so it was expected that she would win,” D’hoore said. “She was the top favourite and she deserved to win.”
Like Sanchis, D’hoore will be the sole representative of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling in Sunday’s Belgian Championship Road Race, where the 25-year-old will be going all out to retain her title.
Result Spanish Time Trial Championship
1. Anna Sanchis (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Sheyla Gutierrez (Lointek)
3. Leire Olaberria (Fullgas)
Result Belgian Time Trial Championship
1. Ann-Sophie Duyck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Pro-Duo)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Sofie De Vuyst (Lensworld-Zanatta)
Spanish Podium Photo Credit: RFEC
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot has won the French National Time Trial Championships, in Chantonnay, in the Vendée region of France. The 25-year-old, who had taken the silver medal in the last three successive years, completed the 24.7km course in a time of 34 minutes, 59 seconds, at an average speed of 42.352kph. Aude Biannic (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope) finished second, 23 seconds behind Cordon-Ragot, with road World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot taking the bronze medal another 11 seconds back.
“Finally I did it! It was a long wait, and I’m enjoying it maybe more than I would have done if I had won last year, because one year has passed and it has been a long year – a long season. With all my problems from the beginning of the season I couldn’t expect this dream, so I”m really happy.”
Defending champion Ferrand Prevot had been the fastest over the opening 7km, passing through the timing point five seconds faster than Cordon-Ragot, but the World Champion had gone out too fast. Pacing her ride to perfection, the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider was 20 seconds ahead at the 17.65km mark and – as Ferrand Prevot was slowing – was getting faster.
Cordon-Ragot crossed the line to push Biannic off the hot seat and, with only Ferrand Prevot to finish, soon knew that she had won her first elite national title on the road.
“She was faster than me at the first checkpoint,” Cordon-Ragot explained. “But I was not so worried because I took a really slow start. I didn’t want to go too fast because I knew it was a really hard lap, so I started not at full gas and tried to do a really strong final. That’s what I did, and it worked.”
The victory for Cordon-Ragot comes on the back of a strong performance in last week’s Aviva Women’s Tour. The Frenchwoman spent much of the race working hard for her teammates, but was able to take her own chance on the final stage where she almost managed to hold off the chasing peloton into the uphill finish in Hemel Hempstead.
“I felt strong and I think it’s also why I was really confident in this race,” she explained. “I knew that in the UK I was feeling really super-good, I had really good legs. Also the ambience of the team was really nice, and I think that’s also why I could get a good result.”
As the outstanding French rider of the season so far, Cordon-Ragot’s time trial victory confirms the 25-year-old as one of the big favourites for Saturday’s Road Race Championships. For now, however, the Breton is happy to enjoy her new jersey.
“I think it’s possible to do both but, yeah, I don’t want to think too much about that,” she said. “I just want to wait, and to do my best on Saturday. Of course I’m thinking about both jerseys, but I just want to enjoy this one, and after I will see.
“Of course I see that I have the opportunity to do – as we say in French – le doublé, and if I can do it for sure I will go full gas.”
With two time trials in the upcoming Giro d’Italia, Cordon-Ragot is looking forward to the honour of wearing her national colours in the sport’s biggest stage race. She will also be able to stand proudly beside her close friend and teammate Elisa Longo Borghini, who holds the Italian Time Trial title.
“I did a promise to Elisa, and I said that we would take a photo in our two tricolore jerseys, and finally we can do it!” Cordon-Ragot laughed. “It’s a good place to wear the jersey that’s for sure!”
1. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Aude Biannic (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope)
3. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo-Liv)
Photo Credit: Pascal Lincent
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore finished the Aviva Women’s Tour in second place overall, with Elisa Longo Borghini the most aggressive rider of the five-day race, at the end of the fifth and final stage between Marlow, Buckinghamshire and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. For a second day in succession a black and orange rider was denied a stage victory in the final metres, as French puncheur Audrey Cordon-Ragot was caught with around 300 metres to go after escaping in the final 20km.
Belgian Champion D’hoore was narrowly beaten to the line at the finish of the 102km stage by young British sprinter Hannah Barnes (UnitedHealthcare), with Italian Simona Frapporti (Alé-Cipollini) in third. The six-second time bonus on the line meant that D’hoore climbed one place to second overall in the final General Classification, just six seconds behind World Time Trial Champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM).
“This week was a team effort, and the girls helped me so much,” D’hoore said. “They did an amazing job. Giorgia [Bronzini] was the team captain, and she helped all of us, and that made a difference in the end.
“In the end it was pretty close, it was just a matter of a few seconds, but if it comes down to seconds you keep thinking ‘where did I lose the seconds.’ But I’m just happy with second, because Lisa Brennauer was just too strong this week; she was stronger than me, I can honestly say that, so congrats to her.”
After a series of attacks from herself and teammate Longo Borghini, Cordon-Ragot set off in pursuit of lone attacker Claudia Lichtenberg (Liv-Plantur). The two riders managed to hold off the peloton over the rolling roads into Hemel Hempstead, but the final, uphill two kilometres proved just too much for them to make it to the finish.
“It was definitely for the win,” Cordon-Ragot said of her attack. “We had to be aggressive, and we had to play the card of Elisa or me today, because it was a hard stage and we didn’t know if Jolien and Gio were able to go to the finish. We attacked one by one, with Elisa, and my attack was the decisive one, and 300 metres to go I am caught. That’s so, so bad; it’s so disappointing…”
“It was the perfect plan,” Cordon-Ragot added, referring to Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s aggressive tactics. “Yesterday and today we stuck to the plan, and I think we were so close to the win. If you don’t try you never win, you never have a chance to do something. I’ve been aggressive, and I think the wheel will turn for me, and I think I will win a big race one day!”
Thanks to her long attack through the rain of stage four, and her constant attacking throughout the Aviva Women’s Tour, Longo Borghini was awarded the prize for the most aggressive rider in the entire race. The 23-year-old Italian Tour of Flanders winner spent most of the week working for her teammates, with her persistent attacks putting pressure on the other teams of the race, but came oh-so close to taking a victory for herself.
“It’s been a good week, and we tried our best,” Long Borghini said. “I tried to be aggressive and to work for the team. I tried also to have a chance yesterday, and I tried also today. In the end it didn’t work out, but I think we can be satisfied because we worked really well as a team; and I’m proud of my teammates and all the staff, because we really did what we scheduled.
“I’m feeling really well, and I’m positive for the upcoming races.”
The irony that Cordon-Ragot suffered a similar finishing straight defeat as herself she herself had done the day before wasn’t lost on Longo Borghini; particularly as their similar styles often see the two of them mistaken for one another in the bunch. Longo Borghini even began the stage with “I am not Audrey” written on her arm, in the spot where Cordon-Ragot has her “Amor Vincit Omnia” tattoo.
“Me and Audrey are just the same person actually!” Longo Borghini joked. “Because we look so the same on the bike, and we are racing aggressively in the same way. We had a bit of bad luck, but I’m so sure that everything will turn, and the odds will be with us.”
Result Stage 5
1. Hannah Barnes (UnitedHealthcare)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Simona Frapporti (Alé-Cipollini)
Final General Classification
1. Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM)
2. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini was awarded a well-deserved Combativity Prize at the end of the fourth stage of the 2015 Aviva Women’s Tour, between Waltham Cross and Stevenage, in Hertfordshire. The 23-year-old Italian Tour of Flanders winner escaped with just over 30km to go, along with Sabrina Stultiens (Liv-Plantur) and almost managed to hold off the chasing peloton to the finish. German Champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) won the 103km stage, ahead of Swedish Champion Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Finnish Champion Lotta Lepistö, after Longo Borghini and Stultiens were caught in the final 200 metres.
“We had a plan,” Longo Borghini said afterwards. “Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] was going to attack after the first sprint, and I was to attack at the last GPM – at the end of the climb – Audrey’s attack didn’t really work out, but she ended up doing the sprint – and actually winning it. Eventually, my attack worked out, and I broke away together with Sabrina Stultiens, and in the last 200 metres they caught us back.”
With the five-day race still wide open, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling decided that an aggressive stage was the best way to make the race, by putting pressure on the other big teams. With Longo Borghini still high up in the General Classification, a successful attack could have netted the Italian both the stage victory and the race leader’s Yellow Jersey.
Unfortunately, the 23-year-old was denied in the very last metres, but has no regrets over the team’s chosen tactics.
“We respected the plan, and we raced like the plan was, but in the end we missed 200 metres,” she smiled. “But I’m happy this way because we raced really well and we were organised. We wanted to put some pressure on the other teams, to chase me, so in general – even though we didn’t get the result – we raced well and we stuck to the plan.”
Cordon-Ragot’s part in Longo Borghini’s breakaway was also part of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s strategy for the stage and, even though her own attack was quickly closed down by the peloton, her aggressive riding eventually laid the foundations for her friend and teammate to escape.
“We did exactly what the plan was, and we have no regrets,” Cordon-Ragot said. “We wanted to race really aggressively, and to make the others work. Because during the other three first days we chased, and we worked a lot, and the other teams were waiting for us. So to have someone at the front, we can sit back.
“It’s really important in a stage race that everybody works,” the Frenchwoman added. “Because if you arrive less fresh than the others in the last day, it’s a danger.”
With 20km to go, the duo had around a minute’s lead over the peloton but, with the rain falling harder on the already-wet Hertfordshire roads, conditions were making it increasingly difficult for the two riders to stay away.
“It could have been enough,” Longo Borghini said. “I like racing in the wet, although I had a bad crash actually in the wet, but I still like it; I like when it’s rainy. But maybe if it was dry I could have taken the corners a bit faster; taken some more risks, but with the nationals coming up – and the Giro – it’s not worth risking your life!”
“For sure she was going to make it,” Cordon-Ragot concurred. “But in the end it was really wet and tricky, so she had to go slow. For sure, without this problem she would do it!”
With just one stage left of the Aviva Women’s Tour, the general classification is still very close, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore in third place. The Belgian Champion goes into the final stage with no expectations for her own personal result, but Longo Borghini is confident that the black and orange team will be able to do something.
“We have a very strong team, and I think we can do a good result,” Longo Borghini said. “Tomorrow sounds like a harder stage, compared to this one. I think we can do something.”
(Photo Credit Picture 2: Balint Hamvas/cyclephotos.co.uk)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders are looking forward to the fourth stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour, after poor luck prevented a good result on stage three between the towns of Oundle and Kettering, in Northamptonshire. Former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini crashed with around 25km to go and, while the Italian was able to rejoin the peloton, she was unable to realise her full potential on a finish that would normally have suited her.
Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore was the best-placed rider from the black and orange team at the end of 139km stage, taking seventh place. The stage two winner crossed the line in a group, just two seconds behind winner Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans). Time bonuses meant that Luxembourg Champion also took the race leader’s yellow jersey; D’hoore sits just three seconds back in second place thanks to bonuses picked up at the stage’s two intermediate sprints.
“Today it was pretty hectic with the roundabout in the last kilometre,” D’hoore said. “It was not one of my best days today, so I told the team and we decided to go for the sprint with Giorgia. But then she crashed, and we hand’t calculated for that, so that was an issue in the final.”
Although she missed out at the finish today, D’hoore is optimistic about the team’s chances – both for stage wins and the general classification – in the remaining two days of the race.
“The whole GC is really close. It’s all within a few seconds, so anything can happen now,” she added. “The most important day is Sunday, but we’ll try to do something tomorrow, and try to shake up the GC!”
The breakaway of the day came from Heather Fischer (USA) and Chloe McConville (Orica-AIS), who broke away midway through the stage. They were joined by Sharon Laws (Bigla), and managed to get more than three minutes clear, before Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling set to work with some other teams to bring them back. The hilly parcours meant that the trio’s lead was to fall steadily, until they were finally caught with four kilometres to go.
D’hoore took third place in the first intermediate sprint, in Fotheringhay after 19km – behind Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Hannah Barnes (UnitedHealthcare) – and the one-second bonus saw her draw level with Brennauer overall. Another third place in Desborough after 77.2km – behind Fischer and McConville, but before Laws escaped – meant that the Belgian Champion had taken the overall lead.
Unfortunately for the Belgian Champion, however, Majerus’ victory meant that the Luxembourg Champion leapfrogged both D’hoore and Brennauer to take the yellow jersey.
Having been a big part of the chase, with D’hoore herself contributing a lot of energy – along with teammates Dani King, Nettie Edmondson, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Elisa Longo Borghini – Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s plans had to change as the finish approached.
“We were in the feedzone, and I had a bottle in my hand – so I was only holding the bike with one – and somebody hit my front wheel, and I lost control of the bike,” Bronzini explained. “Somebody else crashed on me, and they came down a little bit hard on my legs.
“I came back, and Elisa [Longo Borghini] was there to help me, but that effort – when the bunch was so stretched because Velocio was working hard to close the gap – was really hard, and I suffered a lot. I said to Jolien to be focused for the final because I couldn’t guarantee 100% to be in the front in the end.
“Probably tomorrow I’m going to be sore on my left side, but it was just a normal crash; no worries!” the former two-time road World Champion laughed.
1. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Barbara Guarischi (Velocio-SRAM)
3. Lucy Garner (Liv-Plantur)
7. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore won the second stage of the 2015 Aviva Women’s Tour, between Braintree and Clacton, on the Essex coast, with a powerful uphill sprint. The Belgian Champion launched herself around the final corner, with more than 250 metres to go, with the intention of leading out her teammate Giorgia Bronzini; as the Italian lost contact in the melee behind D’hoore, the Belgian held on to take the victory herself. German Champion and race leader Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) took second place, just under a length behind D’hoore, with Luxembourg Champion Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) third.
“The sprint was really hard,” D’hoore said after the stage. “My idea was to go from the last corner full gas. In my mind Giorgia was on my wheel, so I just went full gas from the corner. But it was still 300 metres to go, so it was pretty long; and it was headwind and uphill, so it was hard.
“It was pretty close in the end,” she continued. “I hoped Giorgia Bronzini was in my wheel, so I could do the lead out, but she wasn’t there. She told me to go from the corner, and she would see if she was in my wheel or not. So I just gave everything to the finish.”
A ten-second time bonus on the line – as well as one second picked up at an intermediate sprint – means that D’hoore is just one second behind Brennauer in the general classification, as the German took six seconds for her second place. The Belgian Champion is looking to support her teammates in the race for the yellow jersey in the three stages to come, however.
“I think the GC is more for Elisa Longo Borghini, or Giorgia,” she said. “I just wanted to go for a stage win, and I have it now. So I can stay relaxed and I will see how I go in the next stages.”
The 138km stage was dominated by a two-rider escape from young German Corinna Lechner (German National Team) and experienced Dutchwoman Vera Koedooder (Bigla), who got away just before the 50km point. The duo was able to open up a lead of almost four minutes before the peloton began to pull them back; Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling once again joined some of the other sprinters’ teams in the chase and the gap began to close steadily.
Inside the final 20km the two leaders had less than a minute of their advantage left, and Koedooder decided to leave Lechner behind. With the peloton anxious not to catch the Dutch breakaway specialist too soon, she was able to able to hold off the chase for several more kilometres, but was eventually swept up with just under four to go.
From that point the race became a high-speed dash to the Clacton seafront, where D’hoore proved herself to be the fastest on the uphill sprint.
“There was a lot of pressure on the team before the stage race,” D’hoore said. “We did a lot of work yesterday – maybe too much – so I’m happy that I could take the win today for the team.
“I’m just happy we could take a stage win,” she added. “Now we can stay relaxed, and see how it goes in the next days. We still have Giorgia for the stage win, and maybe GC, and Elisa for GC, so we will see.
“This is a boost for the whole team. We did a lot of work today as well, so I’m happy for me and the team, and maybe we can show something in the next days.”
1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM)
3. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore finished in fifth place in the opening stage of the 2015 Aviva Women’s Tour, between Bury St Edmonds and Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, as stage winner Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) crashed shortly after crossing the line. German Champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) took second place, ahead of Swedish Champion Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Simona Frapporti (Alé-Cipollini), after hard work from the peloton had chased down a breakaway group of four riders.
Unfortunately, Armitstead collided with the official photographers shortly after crossing the line, crashing heavily. All of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders managed to avoid the incident.
“It didn’t really go like we planned today,” D’hoore admitted. “We were just too far back to do a proper sprint. We missed out on a chance today, but there are four more days to come. We will stay positive for the next stages.
“I just hope Lizzie Armitstead is okay after her crash,” the Belgian champion added.
The 112km stage saw the peloton stay together for most of the first half but, as the race made its way through the centre of Ipswich, a breakaway group began to form. Marta Tagliaferro (Alé-Cipollini), Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) and Heather Fischer (USA) were joined by former Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider Elinor Barker (Matrix Fitness), Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi) and Rivera’s teammate Katie Hall. Fischer crashed out of the group, but the break then received a huge stroke of luck as the peloton was forced to stop at a railway crossing.
By the time the bunch was able to get started again, the breakaway’s advantage had stretched out to 2’45”, with less than 40km to race.
“It wasn’t great for us today, unfortunately we missed the break and we had to chase harder than we hoped we would have to do to bring it back,” Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Dani King explained. “It was a bit of a messy finish, and Jolien ended up fifth. It’s okay for us; it takes the pressure off us a bit tomorrow, but it’s not exactly perfect.
“I did a lot of work today, and had quite a good feeling in my legs,” the Olympic Champion added. “I’m feeling quite good on the bike.
“The atmosphere was amazing again this year,” King commented on the huge crowds that were out at the side of the road. “I rode the Tour last year, and the crowds were just phenomenal. It was so good to see so much support for women’s cycling in the UK. All the schoolchildren came out, and were screaming, and it really lifts everyone riding; it gives us goosebumps as we’re riding, and makes us go even faster!
“We’re really grateful for all the support that we get on the roads.”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, along with Velocio-SRAM and Liv-Plantur, began to steadily close the gap to the breakaway group, which soon reduced to four riders as Archibald lost contact on the final climb. With 10km to go the quartet’s lead was down to one minute but, as they turned onto the Aldeburgh seafront with 3km to go, they still had 40 seconds. The breezy seaside conditions proved too much for them, however, and they were caught inside the final 500 metres.
“It was relatively uneventful for the first 50km or so,” said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson. “It all stayed together, but it was pretty fast.
“Once the break got away, we thought it was okay, and it was still under control until we hit the railway lines, where we got held up by a minute,” the double Track World Champion explained. “The break didn’t have to stop, so we had a big gap to close; that changed the plan a bit, so we had to use three riders to bring it back. They did a brilliant job, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get up for the win today.
We’re looking forward to trying to change things up tomorrow,” Edmondson concluded.
1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM)
3. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS)
4. Simona Frapporti (Alé-Cipollini)
5. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)