Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling is delighted and proud to announce that Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara has renewed her contract, and will spend a fourth straight year as part of the black and orange squad. The Japanese Champion has been part of the team since its inception in 2013, and is one of the most popular riders with her teammates and the staff. A tireless worker for others, Mayuko took her first professional victories in Europe for herself in 2015; after having retained her National Champion’s jersey with sprint victory over her biggest domestic rival, she delighted the entire women’s peloton by becoming the first ever rider from Japan to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia.
“I really appreciate, and I’m really excited, that I could continue with Wiggle Honda in 2016,” Hagiwara said. “For me it will be the fourth year with this team; I have been this team from the first year of the team, and that is so special.
“I love this team, and I appreciate that I can work in this team 2016 also,” she added. “Next year, the big riders will come. I looking forward to working with them, and I will keep trying to work hard and find my position in the team.
“Then we really would achieve big success as a team next year more than this year. I will work hard for it.”
Hagiwara’s incredible season was brought to a cruel and abrupt end, as she suffered a fractured collarbone in a crash during the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta on the streets of the Spanish capital, but it has been her most successful to date. Not only was 2015 her best season, however, but it was also the best yet for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, which is due in no small part to the hard work of the quietly spoken Japanese Champion.
“The re-signing of Mayuko is very special to me and to our team,” Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Owner and Manager Rochelle Gilmore said. “We’ve been working together now for three years and have achieved the impossible. Mayuko is an inspiration to so many people including myself. She is living proof that if you believe in The Dream, you can achieve The Dream.
“Our team has been powered by the Japanese car manufacturer, Honda, so it’s important that we’re represented by Japan’s most talented female cyclist, and we’re extremely fortunate that Mayuko is also a beautiful person and role model for all of our fans and followers.
“I’m delighted that Mayuko has chosen our team for another two years and I’m absolutely positive that we have not yet seen the best of Mayuko Hagiwara,” Gilmore added.
Hagiwara is the eighth rider to be confirmed as part of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team in 2016. Alongside the Japanese Champion will be her current teammates, Olympic Champion Dani King, Italians Elisa Longo Borghini and Giorgia Bronzini, Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore; along with new signings, Swedish Champion Emma Johansson, Dutch all-rounder Amy Pieters and British sprint prodigy Lucy Garner.
More members of the 2016 team will be announced in the coming weeks.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini has closed her incredible 2015 season with a stunning solo solo victory in the Giro Dell’Emilia. After attacking no less than three times on the steep climb to the Madonna di San Luca Sanctuary, above the Emilia Romagna capital Bologna, the 23-year-old Italian – dressed in the Azzura-blue of her national team – crossed the line five seconds ahead of South African Champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Bigla), with American veteran Amber Neben (BePink-LaClassica) another two seconds back in third.
Riding in the red and yellow of her own national team, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Spanish Champion Anna Sanchis crossed the line in eighth place, in a group 21 seconds behind Longo Borghini.
“It was a pretty easy race because there was only the final climb,” Longo Borghini explained. “It was 2.2km with a ten percent average, so it was pretty hard in the final. Ashleigh Moolman did the forcing at the bottom, just tried to go a bit hard to weaken the others a bit…
“Then with 250 metres to go I started my sprint, because I need to start a bit long because I need a harder sprint, and I came first!
“It was rainy. It was quite cold. But I actually like cold more than the warmth!”
With the peloton all together around the flat 99km course, it was left to the stronger riders to make the difference when the steep climb to the Madonna di San Luca began.
“In the beginning it was Ashleigh who attacked, and we were four, and then it flattened a bit and eleven riders came back. Then I went a bit hard, and we were three – me, Yolanda Neff [Switzerland] and Ashleigh; then I pulled a bit, and Neff blew up, and we were two.
“It was nice because most of the time I’m racing with Wiggle Honda, and this time I was with the National Team. It’s the first time in my life in a normal race. It’s kind of strange because you are looking for the Wiggle Honda jersey, and then you are reminded that you are with the National Team, and you have to look for the blue jersey!”
As with many races in Italy, Longo Borghini was presented with several prizes on the podium, including an enormous mortadella sausage; a Bologna speciality, and known locally as “Il re dei salumi” – the king of the salamis.
“I went out with heaps of presents!” she laughed. “My family really likes [mortadella], and they will eat it for sure!”
Longo Borghini’s victory draws her 2015 season to a close, which has been her most successful to date. Her debut year for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling saw the 23-year-old from Verbania, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, win the Tour of Flanders, and a dominant climb to la Planche des Belles Filles, in the Vosges mountains, completed a dominant victory in the Route de France.
“For me it’s been a really nice season,” she said. “July was a really hard month for me; I had some troubles with my back, and I struggled a lot during the Giro d’Italia, which was one of my goals, but for the rest I’m really happy and satisfied. I’m hitting 2016 with a really positive mood, and a lot of expectations.”
It has not only been Longo Borghini’s own results that have made this season stand out, however, but her contribution to the results of the rest of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team has been immeasurable.
“That’s what makes my 2015 really good because for the very first time I felt like I was really useful for the team,” she said. “This was important because I felt that I was really part of the success of the team, and I could improve myself.
“It’s something that makes me really happy, and makes my 2015 even more nice.”
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
2. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Bigla)
3. Amber Neben (BePink-LaClassica)
8. Anna Sanchis (Spain)
Photo Credit: Fabiano Ghilardi
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling is excited and proud to announce that Dani King has recommitted herself to the team for at least one more season. The 24-year-old Olympic Champion from Hampshire, on the south coast of England, has been a part of the black and orange team since its creation in 2013 and – having won her Olympic Gold in the Velodrome of London 2012 – will remain so as she works toward the Road Race team of Rio 2016.
“I’m delighted to have again renewed my contract with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling,” King said. “2016 will see me solely focus on the road for the first time in my career and with the Women’s WorldTour starting next year this is an incredibly exciting time to be embarking on my career as a full time road cyclist.
“Wiggle Honda provides the perfect environment for me to embark on this new challenge and I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings me and the team,” she added.
After recovering from a serious training accident, in November 2014 King’s 2015 season began in early April with a stunning victory in the Tour of the Reservoir, in Northumberland, in the north of England. Her European return soon followed, where she achieved her first UCI race Top 10 at Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik and consistently provided powerful support to her Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammates.
As one of the big stars of British cycling, Olympic and three-time World Champion King was one of the main attractions at the Aviva Women’s Tour in June, where she helped Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore to win a stage and finish second overall. A strong run of form in the latter part of the season saw her once again play a major part in the victories of her teammates, including D’hoore’s emphatic win in the Open de Suède Vårgårda – where teammate Giorgia Bronzini finished second – and in the Boels Rentals Ladies Tour, where she supported Elisa Longo Borghini’s bid for overall victory.
King’s experience in the Team Pursuit, along with her considerable natural horsepower, made her an indispensable part of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team Time Trial squad, which finished fifth in the Vårgårda World Cup and came so close to a World Championship Medal in Richmond, Virginia, last week.
“Wiggle Honda will be so much stronger in 2016 simply due to having Dani commit 100% to the road and our team,” said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team Owner and Manager Rochelle Gilmore.
“Personally it has been difficult for me to not actively pressure Dani to turn her focus and attention to the road earlier. However, the time has come, her heart has made the decision very clear for her towards the end of this season.
“I’m super excited to see what Dani will achieve on the road in 2016 and we as a team will also support Dani’s personal ambitions to be in Rio, assisting Britain’s Gold medal hope Lizzie Armitstead to victory,” Gilmore added.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini finished agonisingly close to the medals in today’s World Championship Road Race, in Richmond, Virginia, as she crossed the line in fourth place in a highly selective group. Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead took the victory, ahead of the Netherlands Anna van der Breggen, while Italian Longo Borghini was just pipped to the line by the United States’ Megan Guarnier at the end of a thrilling 129.6km race.
“I felt really good on today’s race,” said Longo Borghini, who took the Silver Medal in the 2012 World Championships. “I would have liked to give a medal to my country, because I’m proud to be Italian and I always want to see my nation on the podium.”
The race had seen a nine-rider break that included Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders Audrey Cordon-Ragot of France, and Emilia Fahlin of Sweden – as well as 2016 signing Amy Pieters of the Netherlands – which looked for some time like it may have stayed away from the finish. On the last of the eight laps of the 16.2km Richmond circuit however, the peloton caught the group. Longo Borghini was comfortably close to the front of the bunch as it began the final rise to the finish, with Italian Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Giorgia Bronzini not far behind her.
Former two-time Road World Champion Bronzini suffered an unfortunate mechanical in the closing metres, however, leaving Longo Borghini to sprint for herself.
“I didn’t know Giorgia had a mechanical and I hoped that Elena [Cecchini] and her came back for the sprint,” she explained. “That’s why I waited to start the sprint.”
Despite several breakaway attempts, where only solo riders had been able to escape the peloton, the race stayed largely together for much of the race. On the penultimate lap, however, the group of nine riders escaped and, with virtually all of the strong teams of the race represented, was able to get more than a minute clear.
With attacks from within the group slowing its progress, however, and a strong chase from the peloton, the race came together on the final, cobbled climb of Libby Hill.
“It was a good race, I had some good legs and it was great to be in the mix at such a big event. It was a fun day out!” said Fahlin. “We had to cover the breaks, we had to have someone represented because we didn’t want to chase. I had to go with all the breaks, but I stayed out a lot longer than planned! I did a lot of work throughout the day, but it was good to get in the break.”
Fahlin was in the break on behalf of 2016 Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling signing Emma Johansson, who finished in fifth place behind future teammate Longo Borghini.
“I sort of expected that we’d get caught,” Fahlin explained. “The gap went out but I thought that the Dutch wouldn’t be happy because we were nine riders and it was a bit of risk for them. We had a big gap, but I expected them to come towards the end.
“It was fun being out there together with Audrey!” she laughed. “It was a great atmosphere, which made it really cool as well.”
Cordon-Ragot was there on behalf of defending champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot. With a lead of over a minute it looked as though the group might stay clear, but it all came together as the peloton accelerated behind.
“I’m really satisfied of my race, I did the job I had to do and in a moment I thought maybe it could be my day,” the Frenchwoman smiled.
“I felt really good and I tried with all my forces to go ’til the end but the Dutch team decided to chase after Amy Pieters told them that she was not good enough to win today. It was the perfect plan for Armitstead who just had to wait her hour!
“I was not worried to be caught because I knew that Pauline could sprint for the win,” she added. “We are close to a new podium and it’s a great result for us.”
Photo credit: Sonoko Tanaka
1. Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
3. Megan Guarnier (United States)
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling is delighted to announce that its Italian superstars, Elisa Longo Borghini and Giorgia Bronzini, have both extended their contracts with the team. Former two-time Road World Champion Bronzini plans to retire after one final bid for the rainbow jersey in Doha, Qatar, at the end of next season, but Longo Borghini will remain in the black and orange colours for at least another two years.
Both riders won World Cup races with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling in 2015, with Longo Borghini taking the Tour of Flanders with a stunning solo breakaway, and Bronzini taking the Tour of Chongming Island in a bunch sprint, and both hope for more success in the coming season.
“The team is really strong and I believe we can achieve even better results than this year,” Longo Borghini said. “For me it would be really nice to win another World Cup – although they won’t be the World Cup next year, they will be WorldTour races!
“I have really good teammates and I really hope to work well with them again as I did this year.”
Along with her Flanders victory, Longo Borghini also took two stages and the overall victory at the Route de France, and finished as best Italian rider at the Giro d’Italia once again. It’s not only her teammates on the road that the 23-year-old credits for those victories, however, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s World class support team behind her all the way.
“I’m really happy to work again with all the staff, because [Directeur Sportif Egon van Kessel] was really helpful this year,” Longo Borghini added. “I’m sure that next year he will improve the team even more. He’s a development coach so he knows how to bring the best out of the riders.”
Bronzini has been a member of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling since its inception at the start of the 2013 season and has enjoyed some of the best years of her career. Along with her Chongming Island victory this year, the 32-year-old also won the Drentse 8 this season, and matched Longo Borghini’s Route de France stages with two of her own.
“It’s the last season of my career, and this team feels like a home for me,” Bronzini said. “I know it will be really tricky because it is an Olympic year, and everyone is going to be fighting to be in the Olympics. Maybe there will be some points that the girls will be with their national teams, but I’m really sure that I want to take the opportunity to stay with this team.
“The team is so close to my heart. I want to stay together, and work together like we have always done. I hope that the power will stay with this team, because when we decide to go for something we work together for it. That is the main strength of the team.”
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling was built around the former World Champion’s sprinting power in its first seasons, but it has been her role as a mentor to her younger teammates that has motivated her most this year.
“Of course we have a lot of sponsors that support us,” she added. “I know that a lot of those sponsorships will continue and we are happy for that. I hope to have a good finish in the last year of my career, and I hope I can give some instruction to the other girls. It was already a good year with Jolien D’hoore and Elisa, but we have also seen Mayuko Hagiwara’s career come up. This was one of my best goals, to be a kind of teacher.
“We’re not just teammates, we are friends.”
“It’s an extremely proud day to announce the re-signings of Gio and Elisa,” said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Owner and Manager Rochelle Gilmore. “This team simply would not be what it is today without the dedicated passion and guidance Giorgia has offered all the athletes we have welcomed into the team. Giorgia has played a major role in strengthening the team year by year, identifying talent and personalities that could fit well in our structure and environment.
“Gio and I have analysed and selected athletes over the past 3 years who we believe have a much larger potential than we were at the time witnessing, we then make it our ambition, together with our other dedicated staff, athletes and sponsors to ensure the athletes brought into the team are offered an environment where they can reach their maximum potential.
“Elisa has exceeded our expectations this year with her Tour of Flanders victory and Route De France overall general classification win so we’re extremely motivated to assist her ambitions in 2016 and we’ll do our part to ensure that she continues ticking boxes relating to her personal ambitions in the Olympic year,” Gilmore added.
“It won’t be long until Elisa Longo Borghini will reach World No.1 in Women’s Cycling. She’s an incredible talent.”
Longo Borghini and Bronzini are the fifth and sixth riders to be confirmed as part of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team in 2016. Alongside the two Italians will be their current teammate, Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore, along with new signings, Swedish Champion Emma Johansson, Dutch all-rounder Amy Pieters and British sprint prodigy Lucy Garner.
More members of the 2016 team will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team of Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Jolien D’hoore, Annette Edmondson, Emilia Fahlin, Dani King and Elisa Longo Borghini finished just 14 seconds away from the podium of the World Championship Team Time Trial, in Richmond, Virginia, USA. The black and orange riders completed the 38.6km course in a time of 48 minutes, 45.87 seconds, at an average speed of 47.494kph, which was just one minute and ten seconds slower than eventual winner Velocio-SRAM. More significantly, however, the time was just 14 seconds slower than Rabo-Liv, who took the bronze medal, with Boels-Dolmans taking silver.
“That was close!” said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Directeur Sportif Egon van Kessel. “I thought we could be three or four, but that was really close. If you compare with [the Team Time Trial World Cup in Sweden] we were much closer to the top three teams.
“I think, with the preparation we did, we did a good job. It’s the first time in two years that the team has participated, and I think it was a good result.”
When the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders crossed the first checkpoint, after 10km, they were actually two seconds ahead of Rabo-Liv. This was reversed at the second checkpoint, at the 17.8km point, but the black and orange riders managed to hold their deficit to two seconds by the third, at 31.1km.
Only in the final seven kilometres did the Rabo-Liv open up what was to be the final 14 second gap that would win them the bronze medal.
“Of course I wanted to be on the podium, and so did the girls,” van Kessel said. “They’ve worked hard for it in the last week and a half, and I’m sure that – with the experience from this year – we can do much better next year.
“We have had two camps – three or four days before Sweden, and then here – so we made a big step forward. If we do the same next year, and start earlier in the season, we can go for a better result than just the podium; it’s all possible.
“Technically it was really good,” he said of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling performance. “I hear from everyone that saw us on TV that we were the best of all the teams, technically. So that was okay, there are one or two things that we could do better, but it was really top level.”
Although several Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders will be representing their countries in the upcoming World Championship Individual Time Trial and Road Race, the Team Time Trial marks an end to the season for the black and orange team, which has been the best in its three-year history.
“It’s been a wonderful season; a very successful season,” said van Kessel. “I think we have the most victories of all the teams, we had the most World Cup races won, and we are the team with the most riders winning a UCI race. That’s very important, because it shows we are a complete team, and not dependent on one rider.
“That was a big step forward this season. We can be really, really satisfied with our results.”
4. Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling is pleased and excited to announce that Lucy Garner will be joining the team in 2016 on a two-year contract. The young British rider from Leicester, who will celebrate her 21st birthday on the 20th of September, has spent her entire professional career to date with the Liv-Plantur team, but looks forward to the opportunities that riding with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling will bring.
“It’s obviously a huge team, a really professional team, and they’ve had a lot of success,” Garner said. “For me, I just need the next step, a new challenge, and I feel that it’s that time now in my career when I need to make that step, and I think that Wiggle Honda they can really support me and help me with that. They’re really, really positive, and they really believe in my abilities as a sprinter.
“It’s really nice to hear that, that they really believe in me, so I’m really looking forward to working with them.”
As one of the outstanding junior riders of her generation, in 2011 and 2012 Lucy Garner became the first rider since the great Nicole Cooke to win the Junior World Road Race Championships on two occasions. Despite the big step up into the senior ranks, Lucy confirmed her talent with a stage victory in the Tour of Chongming Island, still aged just 18. Last year saw her ride, and finish, her first Giro d’Italia, while this season she won the opening road stage of the Route de France – beating Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Nettie Edmondson to the line in the process. Other results included third place in the tough, technical finish of the third stage of the Aviva Women’s Tour, in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
Earlier this month Garner took another high-profile sprint podium as she finished second to future Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate, Belgian Champion Jolien D’hoore, in the first stage of the Boels Rentals Ladies Tour.
“It has been a good three years,” Garner said. “But I’m definitely looking, especially next year and the year after, to build on my sprint, and also work on building a bigger engine so I can be there in the finals. That’s another real reason why I’m going to Wiggle Honda; they will give me real opportunities to be in the final, but not necessarily always sprinting.
“There’s going to be a lot of good riders on Wiggle Honda, but it’s really good for me just to ride the races to make me stronger. That’s definitely going to help me in the future with my sprinting.”
Garner is not the only current Liv-Plantur rider to make the move to Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling next year, with Dutch rider Amy Pieters already confirmed with the black and orange team. The two young riders have enjoyed an excellent relationship in their three years riding together, and Garner hopes to see that continue.
“The last couple of years Amy and I have really got on well off the bike, as well as on the bike, and I really trust Amy as a rider,” Garner said. “We’ve been riding together for three years now, and for the sprints she’s always the last lead-out girl for me. I know what she’s doing and she knows me really well. I really trust her as a rider, and she’s a really strong rider as well!
“It’s really nice that we can do the move together, and it’s always nice to have someone there that you know of course!”
“This is an extremely exciting signing for the future of our team and for our British based sponsors and fans!” said Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team Owner and Manager Rochelle Gilmore. “It’s the perfect moment to have the opportunity to start working with Lucy. We’ll have a very busy race schedule in 2016 and with many athletes focusing on Rio, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to support Lucy’s development and ambitions.
“A professional environment is of the utmost importance to Lucy, so our team of very dedicated staff and experienced athletes are extremely eager to welcome Lucy into the family and be a part of her rapidly developing career.”
Garner joins Pieters, Belgian Champion D’hoore and Swedish Champion Emma Johansson in the list of confirmed riders in Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s 2016 roster. More riders will be announced in the coming weeks.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini took second place in the first ever edition of La Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta, as the race in the centre of the Spanish capital finished in a bunch sprint. The former two-time Road World Champion was just unable to catch race winner Shelley Olds (Alé-Cipollini) as she crossed the line, but was well clear of Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) in third place.
“I didn’t want to take a lot of risks in the sprint,” Bronzini explained. “So I was really behind when I started my sprint, so it was not enough and I was second. But I’m happy because it means that I’m okay, and I’m in a good mood for the Worlds.
“I paid attention and I didn’t take many risks,” she added. “We were only five in the race, and we were only three at the end, so I think we did a really good job. Now I’m looking forward to two weeks!”
In a highly aggressive race, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s riders were constantly on the attack, with a solo move from Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara setting the tone early on. Amy Roberts then escaped as part of a group of ten riders, which put the pressure of chasing on those teams not represented.
Unfortunately Hagiwara crashed midway through the race, and was forced to abandon, but then Roberts got away in another large breakaway group, which was not reeled in until the final 10km.
“I’m really sorry for Mayuko’s crash,” Bronzini said. “It was not the best, but I’m hopeful that she’s okay; we hope for the best. It was a really good race by Anna Sanchis and Amy Roberts. Amy did a lot of attacks and she was really good.”
With her focus now turning to the World Championships, in Richmond, Virginia, in less than two weeks, Bronzini started the race astride a brand new Colnago V1-r frame, painted in the azure blue of the Italian National Team.
“I would like to thank Colnago for the new frame!” she said. “It’s really nice, and it was obviously okay in the race! So now we’re ready to try to do our best in two weeks time. I’m sending all my best luck to the girls that are out there for the Worlds [Team Time Trial].
“I think they can do a really good job, so my best luck to the staff and the girls that are already in Richmond.”
1. Shelley Olds (Alé-Cipollini)
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products)
Spanish Champion Anna Sanchis will be proud to line up on the start line of Sunday’s first ever Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta at the head of the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team. The 27-year-old from Valencia will be resplendent in her red and yellow “Rojigualda” jersey in the 85.5km race around the historic centre of the Spanish capital. Similar to La Course by Le Tour de France did in July, the Madrid Challenge will be made up of 15 laps of the 5.8km circuit, which will be used by the men’s peloton in the final stage of the Vuelta a España later in the day.
“This race is very special because it’s on the same day and the same parcours as the final stage of the Vuelta,” Sanchis said. “I’m very excited for that. I think it’s a very good idea, and I think it’s very positive for women’s cycling.”
Having had her season interrupted by a serious collarbone injury, sustained in the second stage of the Giro d’Italia in July, Sanchis is happy to be back to full fitness. Although the course is not one made for the Spanish climber, she is determined to work hard for her teammates on the predominantly flat circuit.
“It’s not a very good parcours for me so I hope I can help my teammate Giorgia [Bronzini],” Sanchis explained. “I think she will be the leader of the team, and I hope to help her, and to go a good job. I feel good, and I hope to be able to do my job.”
Despite this, all eyes will be on the rider from Valencia as the race gets under way, as she proudly displays her Champion’s jersey on the streets of her national capital for the very first time.
“I’m very excited for that!” she exclaimed. “It’s the first time for this race, and of course I am Spanish Champion and it’s special for me to show this jersey in this race. I think it’s one of the most important races – like at the end of the Tour de France – and I’m very excited.”
With the race highly likely to finish in a sprint, the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team will be built around the speed of Bronzini, whose victories this season have included the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup and two stages of the recent Route de France.
“I’m looking forward to it because obviously it’s the first time that they have done this event, so we will try to show Wiggle Honda in the best way in this challenge,” Bronzini said. “Also I know that the Spanish people are really close to cycling, so I look forward to seeing all the people around the lap. I think it will be a great event. I’m really glad that I’ve found a way to do this race, and I’m really excited for it!”
With the World Championships just two weeks away, Bronzini has been training hard at altitude as she aims for a third rainbow jersey on the road.
“It will be a sort of test for me and my condition, because I have just been in the mountains on a training camp,” she explained. “Maybe I will be a little bit tired on Sunday but I will try to do my sprint in the race.
“I hope it will be good weather because it is a bit of a tricky lap with lots of sharp corners,” she added, remembering the torrential rain at La Course that led to several big crashes on the cobbles of Paris’ Champs-Elysées. “I will try to be safe of course, just before the Worlds.”
Alongside Sanchis and Bronzini will be Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara, who will also be proudly displaying her national jersey in what should be one of the most high-profile races of the year. The Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team will be completed by its two youngest riders, Amy Roberts and Anna Christian, whose attacking styles have illuminated similar events in the past, including the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix in August.
La Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta is scheduled to be shown live on Eurosport in most of Europe, and Universal Sports in the USA, from 15:30 Central European Time.
An aggressive performance from Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini saw her take second place in the final, and toughest, stage of the Boels Rentals Ladies Tour, at the top of the Cauberg climb in Valkenburg in the south of the Netherlands. The Italian Tour of Flanders winner was constantly on the attack in the closing kilometres of the 118km stage, but was just unable to respond to the late charge from Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv).
Longo Borghini crossed the line just one second behind the Dutch rider, and managed to hold off the powerful sprint of race leader Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) on the line. Her strong finish to the race meant that the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider finished in fifth place overall, just 40 seconds behind Brennauer.
“Of course I’m disappointed that I didn’t win today, but I feel that my form is quite good right now, and I’m looking forward to the World Championships in Richmond,” Longo Borghini said afterwards. “Even though we couldn’t win, it was a great race for the team!”
With attacks from the very start of the stage, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Emilia Fahlin managed to get into the long break of the day. With a number of overall contenders in the group, Fahlin worked hard to maintain its lead over the peloton, to put pressure on other teams to chase.
“Emilia was really strong, getting into the break of the day,” Longo Borghini explained. “Dani and Jolien were up the front the whole day, and Nettie helped me out when I had a small crash.”
When Fahlin’s group was caught it was Longo Borghini’s turn to go on the offensive, and her attack on the penultimate climb of the Cauberg saw her get clear with de Jong and US Champion Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans). The trio was 30 seconds clear with less than 10km to go but, with all three riders a threat in the general classification, it took a strong case from Brennauer’s teammates to pull them back.
1. Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv)
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM)