Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini has broken the all-time record for consecutive stage wins in a women’s stage race as she sprinted to her sixth victory in the 2013 Route de France. The former two-time World champion, who has stood on the top step of the podium on every day of the race apart from the opening prologue, outclassed the rest of the peloton yet again as a 46-strong group arrived at the finish line in the historic French city of Vichy.
Despite working hard for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Linda Villumsen throughout the stage, Bronzini once again crossed the line a length clear of second place, British champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), and third place Amy Pieters (Argos-Shimano).
“It’s absolutely unbelievable!” Bronzini said of her record-breaking sixth victory. “I could never imagine this happening, but I’m happy and I must have good shape!”
For Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, the object of the stage had been for Villumsen to try to take the one second she needs to take the gold jersey from Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), who has held the race lead since the prologue.
“The first part of the stage was quiet, then at halfway some teams started to attack, like Rabobank, America, and us,” Bronzini explained. “There were so many attacks from us, from Mayuko Hagiwara, Lauren Kitchen and I.
“Then in the final ten-K there was a break of three, and Linda did a big attack to try to catch them, and to try to get a gap. So she was out front alone, and nobody from Orica-AIS could catch her, so Johansson tried to attack herself to try to catch Linda.”
With the breakaway attempt foiled, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling reverted to plan b, to get Bronzini another stage victory, even if the Italian herself thought that this would be impossible.
“On the last climb I gave all of my power to help Linda to stay in the front of the group,” Bronzini said. “I gave all that I had, and on the descent I told Linda that I was finished, but Linda said that we should try for the sprint, even if we don’t win. She and Lauren put me in a good position, and we were close to the front with one-K to go.
“Someone started to sprint on the left side, and the team that was in front of us followed them and left a way for us. It was incredible! Lauren started with about 500 metres to go, with me on her wheel, and she gave me a very, very good lead out.
“When she finished her sprint I began mine, with 200 metres to the finish, and the others just stayed in my wheel.
“It was unbelievable, because it was a hard race for me as I was working, and trying to do something for Linda, but I think that when all things are positive you have more power. The girls believe in me, and give me more power, so we are the strongest team in the race.”
With just one stage remaining in the Route de France, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling has one last chance to lift Villumsen into the race lead and, with a far tougher parcours in store, the whole team will be behind the Danish-born New Zealander once again.
“Tomorrow will be hard,” Bronzini confirmed. “There is a big climb near to the finish, so we will start again with the mentality to help Linda. She was also in good shape today, and we will try to be in front with her when she needs us.
“Tomorrow we will give our all for Linda, to do everything we can to take the jersey.”
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Amy Pieters (Argos-Shimano)
Photo credit: Laurent Duflot