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Longo Borghini dominates Italian Road Championships; Bronzini takes Silver

Ben Atkins : 25th June 2017 7:02 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini has ended what was beginning to feel like a personal jinx at the Italian Road Race Championships by taking a dominant solo victory in Ivrea, Piemonte, in the north-west of the country. Dressed in the blue of the GS Fiamme Oro – the sports team of the Italian State Police – the 25-year-old from nearby Verbania – who took the silver medal in the previous two championships – climbed away from the field on the steep slopes of La Serra, then descended to a memorable victory, a minute and 51 seconds ahead of a chasing group of nine.

To complete a perfect race for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini – wearing her usual black and orange colours – won the sprint for second place, and took the Silver Medal ahead of Soraya Paladin (Alé–Cipollini).

“I’m really excited, and I’m really happy about my victory today,” Longo Borghini said. “It’s a kind of relief after all those second places, and after that crash I had some years ago. The Nationals were a bit of a nightmare for me, and now it looks more like a dream!

“It was a course that really suited me because the climb with the finish line just after the downhill…

“I could do the best. It was my cup of tea,” she laughed.

In previous years Longo Borghini has suffered from isolation in a peloton dominated by strong Italian teams and, even when the course has suited her, has been powerless to prevent the eventual winning move from going clear. This time, however, she was able to call upon support when she needed it, and have more control over the race, before making the winning move herself.

“Today I had a very strong team with the [Fiamme Oro], and we could control and do everything we wanted,” she explained. “Gio was also part of our team because she’s always riding with me the whole year. Just because we are riding an event in different jerseys we are not enemies, and so we worked together and in the end she got second.

“She was so strong, and she was such a positive character for me during the race,” Longo Borghini added. “It was a perfect podium.”

Having been the outstanding Italian rider almost since she joined the elite peloton, her new tricolore is a well deserved indicator of her class. Comparing it to other recent achievements is certainly not easy for the quietly spoken Italian, but she is under no illusions as to what it will mean to race in the colours of her country’s flag.

“It’s not better than an Olympic Medal, but it’s something that will belong to me for a year,” she smiled. “It’s a real honour for me to wear the tricolore and I will try to show it as much as I can. I don’t know how to explain how it feels to have your national colours on your back, but it is something wonderful.

“I just don’t know how to explain it in words.”

Longo Borghini’s Road Race Championship title is added to that of the Time Trial, which she won for the third straight year this week. She will start the Giro d’Italia Femminile on Friday with the tricolore on her back in all individual events.

“It’s going to be very exciting to show it during the Giro Rosa, and I’m looking forward to it. I will go there without any stress, and we will see day by day how I will feel.”

Photo Credit: Fabiano Ghilardi

1. Elisa Longo Borghini (GS Fiamme Oro/Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

3. Soraya Paladin (Alé–Cipollini)

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Jolien D’hoore blasts to Belgian Road Race Championship Victory

Ben Atkins : 25th June 2017 3:09 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore will once again be wearing the black, yellow and red colours of Belgian Champion, that she made her own in previous seasons, after blasting to victory in her National Championships, in the city of Antwerp. Although the course – based on a 16km loop – was completely flat, it was far from a foregone conclusion that the race would finish in a sprint, but after several breakaway attempts the “Belgian Bullet” did indeed outsprint the rest of the peloton.

D’hoore’s World Madison Championship partner Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) took the silver medal, with Kelly Druyts (Sport Vlaanderen-Guill d’Or) taking bronze.

“I’m very pleased with it,” D’hoore smiled. “Obviously it was a big goal for me this year – like it is every year – but it’s not easy if you’re one of the top favourites and everybody is looking at you. I took my responsibility today and I just kept riding the whole race.

“I said to myself that I had to ride, I had to race, and then I couldn’t blame myself after the race. Then it was a bunch kick, so I’m happy with that.”

With strong winds whipping off the nearby River Schelde, the sprint was to be a hard one for D’hoore, particularly as she started the race as the only member of Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling. Her own experience came to the fore, however, along with her considerable power, and she was able to cross the line several lengths clear of Kopecky.

“It was headwind so I had to come really late,” D’hoore explained. “Lotte started to sprint, and I was in her wheel, so I just had to come out and it wasn’t that difficult. But you’re never sure if it comes down to a sprint.”

As the outstanding sprinter in the Belgian peloton it was a surprise to many that D’hoore herself was the instigator of the first of many attacks in the race. the 27-year-old powered away from the field on the cobbled sections of the first of six laps, and only Kopecky and two others were able to follow.

Not everybody in the group was willing to work though, and the foursome was soon caught by the peloton.

“Maybe I was a bit too confident,” D’hoore laughed. “I expected it to be an easier race, because it’s flat, but it was very windy and the cobbled sections were really hard as well. It was a bit too optimistic.”

With flat roads, cobbled sections, wind and even several tram tracks to negotiate, it was no surprise that the rider from the nearby city of Ghent would prosper. With a faster than expected race, however, D’hoore could take nothing for granted as several riders – including World Cyclocross Champion Sanne Cant – were anxious to avoid facing her sprint.

“We’re used to it, but it’s not only the cobbled sections, but also the parts after it, with the wind,” D’hoore explained. “It was a really hard race, even though it was not that long and not an international race, but it took a lot of energy out of me!”

The victory, which is D’hoore’s fourth National Championship Road Race title in six years, means that she gets back the black, yellow and red colours that were a fixture at the front of many of the biggest races during her previous reign as Champion.

“I hope to show the jersey a few times this year, and I’m happy that I’m Belgian Champ again!” she smiled.

Photo Credit: Marc Van Hecke

1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal)
3. Kelly Druyts (Sport Vlaanderen-Guill d’Or)

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Elisa Longo Borghini scorches to third Italian TT Championship in four years

Ben Atkins : 23rd June 2017 7:32 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini powered through the scorching temperatures of the Italian National Championships Time Trial, in Caluso, Piemonte, in north-west Italy, to take her third title in four years. Dressed in the blue colours of the Fiamme Oro – the sports team of the Italian State Police – the 25-year-old from nearby Verbania completed the fast, relatively flat 19km course in a time of 26 minutes, 22 seconds, with an average speed of 43.225kph.

Longo Borghini’s time was 38 seconds quicker than previous best Elena Cecchini (GS Fiamme Azzurre/Canyon-SRAM), and a minute and two seconds faster than Sylvia Valsecchi (BePink).

“It’s always a pleasure to be able to wear the tricolore, I’m happy to be able to carry it over for another year, it’s a real honour,” Longo Borghini said.

“It was very hot today. It was about 37 degrees. The course was fast, very fast, so it didn’t really suit me, but I had good general form. I was happy that I had the best intermediate time, after 10km, and was even happier to have even more time at the end and win by 38 seconds!”

Her third Time Trial Championship, won in such dominant style, once again makes Longo Borghini one of the big favourites for Sunday’s road race. As one of the most unpredictable races of the season, however – where she has finished second to Cecchini in the previous two editions – the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling rider is keen to avoid putting undue pressure on herself.

“On Sunday I will do my best, and I will try to win the race. Hopefully I’m not second any more!” she laughed.

“I will try to do a hard race to win it, but of course you never know,” Longo Borghini added. “The Championships are always a question mark, and they are always so hard to understand and to ride, but I will see.”

1. Elisa Longo Borghini (GS Fiamme Oro/Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Elena Cecchini (GS Fiamme Azzurre/Canyon-SRAM)
3. Sylvia Valsecchi (BePink)

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Audrey Cordon-Ragot dominates to take third straight French TT title

Ben Atkins : 22nd June 2017 9:17 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot has dominated the French National Time Trial Championships, in St Omer, in the Pas-de-Calais department of north-east France, to take her third title in three years. Starting last as defending champion, the Breton rider completed the technical, 25.3km course in a time of 35 minutes, 40 seconds, which was one minute, 23 seconds faster than former Severine Éraud (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope) and a further six seconds faster than Éraud’s teammate Aude Biannic.

“I think this year was the key one,” Cordon-Ragot said. “I just smashed it. I really wanted to make a big result, and make a big performance, because it’s really important when you’re the person selected for the Olympics; if you can’t perform the year of the Olympics, then the year after you want to prove that you were the good selection, and you want to show that you’re the best one in France.

“So it was important for me to make a big result, and also to confirm my good shape from the beginning of the season.

“I think I did it, and I’m really proud,” she added.

Cordon-Ragot was the fastest rider throughout the course, passing through the 9.8km checkpoint in 15’19”, which was 32 seconds quicker than the previous best set by Juliet Labous (Sunweb). The Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling road captain then passed the 17.5km point in 26’04”, which was 1’03” quicker than the time set by Biannic, who had sped up to overtake the younger Labous.

“I think there was a really good battle for the under-23 title,” Cordon-Ragot said of Labous’ contest with Éraud. “I was a bit far away from this because I already had a nice comfortable gap at the first intermediate. I knew I just had to find the balance and to go to the end with a good pace, and not take any risks because it was really, really windy and it was really dangerous.

“I just had to not take any risks, and just enjoy it, and that’s what I did. But for sure they had  really good battle between themselves, and it was interesting for the public.”

Not long after the second checkpoint, Cordon-Ragot passed Elise Delzenne (Lotto-Soudal), who had started two minutes ahead of her, but still avoided taking any unnecessary risks over the sometimes difficult conditions.

“It was quite technical, and it was up and down,” she explained. “You didn’t have much flat really. In the past days when I did the recon it was not as windy as today – it was normal and the wind was different. The first part was quite easy when I did the recon, but it was really hard today.

“I was a bit scared because sometimes when I was in the aero position I felt the wind coming from the side, and and you can’t hold the handlebars very well and you can crash. So most of the time when I felt the wind coming from the side I just held my handlebars at the side.

“I really had to be careful,” she added. “I didn’t want to crash, or to miss this title for a stupid crash or a stupid thing. So I think I did well.”

Cordon-Ragot’s victory means that Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s French road captain gets to wear the blue, white and red colours in all individual races against the clock for a third straight year, which is something she is always proud to do.

“It is nice, for sure!” she explained. “You know how I am with my nationality and my region, and it’s so nice to wear this jersey. Of course I will wear it in the Giro already, so it’s really, really nice.

“I’m just hoping to get the second one on the road, and wear it the whole season in every race. It would be just amazing!”

The challenge for Cordon-Ragot in Saturday’s road race, however, will be that she will start as the only Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling rider against several other big teams.

“That’s the thing,” she explained. “[FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope] has nine at the start, and they have one of the best sprinters in the World with Fournier. The course is quite flat, so you don’t have so many opportunities and make the selection. For sure they will ride for her, trying to bridge every gap and end with a bunch sprint.

“So I’m just hoping for as much wind as today, which could help to do the selection from the back; I have a little chance if it’s a small bunch sprint, and I can play this card, but it will be hard I know.”

Photo Credit: Pascal Linget

1. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Severine Éraud (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope)
3. Aude Biannic (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope)

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Jolien D’hoore wins spectacular Women’s Tour London Finale

Ben Atkins : 11th June 2017 9:12 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore finished the 2017 OVO Energy Women’s Tour in perfect style with a spectacular stage victory in the final, London stage. The former Belgian Champion outpaced the rest of the peloton in a bunch sprint, on Regent Street, St James’s, in the iconic West End of the British capital. British Champion Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) was second, with Luxembourg Champion Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) in third at the end of the 62km criterium-like stage.

“That was really hard,” said D’hoore immediately after the stage. “I think it was one of the hardest crits I’ve done in my life. The hammer was going down from the start, and we missed it with the team. The girls had to chase the whole time; they got it back, and then it was just fast the whole time. It didn’t stop, it just kept going and going!

“We saved the best for last!”

With Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s aim for the race to win one of the five stages, D’hoore felt a little pressure coming into the stage. Only, however, the pressure that she puts on herself as one of the fastest riders in the World, as she performs on the biggest stage.

“When there’s a bunch sprint and you’re a sprinter then there’s always some pressure, but you just have to deal with it, and just win the sprint!” she joked. “It was my job today to win the sprint, and that’s what I did.”

D’hoore began the stage in the red Sprints Jersey, which she had worn since Stage 3 but, as a break swallowed up the first intermediate sprint points, and with D’hoore unable to take any at the second sprint, she unfortunately lost her lead in the classification.

“I tried for an intermediate sprint but I was boxed in, in the corners here, so I knew I had to be in front from the third last corner,” she explained. “That made me a bit angry. I said to myself that my legs are there, but I couldn’t take any points in the intermediate sprint. So I said to myself that I have to win the stage, otherwise the team is not happy with me!

“Of course it’s disappointing to lose the jersey. I knew that I could do it, but I didn’t do it. But then I had no other option but to win the final.”

Although Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot was already confirmed as the winner of the QOM Jersey – provided she finished the final stage – it was no easy time for the French rider as she performed her usual hard-working role for her teammates.

Chasing down a dangerous-looking breakaway in the first half of the stage fell to Cordon-Ragot and the rest of the black and orange team, so that their Belgian sprinter would be able to perform.

“It was super, super hard!” Cordon-Ragot exclaimed. “Probably the longest 60km of my life! It was super fast from the start. This was super, super hard, but I’m so glad that she won. It was really nice.

“I think for the team it’s amazing,” she added. “We came here first for a stage win, and we were a bit disappointed with the first stage, that we lost, and winning here is really showing a good picture of the team. And of course in the middle of London; there is nothing better than this, I’m so glad.”

Cordon-Ragot’s victory in the QOM Classification meant that there were two Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling riders on the final podium in London. The jersey is some reward for the commitment the French rider gives to her teammates, and caps arguably the best spring campaign of the 27-year-old’s career.

“I think the girls are happy for me, and they really enjoyed fighting for it because they know how much I am working. It’s always a good motivation to continue like this.”

1. Jolien D’hoore (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

2. Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM)
3. Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)

Photo Credit: Anton Vos

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World Champion D’hoore super-excited about Olympic Madison addition

Ben Atkins : 10th June 2017 7:00 am : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore has reacted with “super-excitement” to the news that the Madison event has been added to the Track Cycling programme for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. The Belgian became the first-ever women’s World Champion in the Madison in Hong Kong, in April, along with compatriot Lotte Kopecky.

The news was announced on Friday afternoon by the Union Cycliste International (UCI) that the event, that last featured in the Olympics in Beijing 2008 – for men only – would return for both sexes, along with Freestyle BMX.

“I’m super-excited!” D’hoore exclaimed. “I just got in the hotel and I’ve got about a thousand messages from everybody in Belgium, and also Lotte Kopecky. We’re so happy that it’s Olympic!

“We had a feeling that it would become Olympic, but you’re never sure,” she added. “And we thought the news would come out in October, but it’s a bit early now. We’re so happy about it, and now we have a new goal.”

D’hoore competed in both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the Omnium, winning the Bronze Medal in Rio. With her pedigree in the two-rider event, however – where riders take turns to race before hand-slinging their partner into the action – means that this, as well as the road will be her new focus.

“I’m not going for the Omnium any more, my priority is the road in combination with the Madison,” D’hoore confirmed. “It’s a bit less trackie than in previous years, but I’m still going for the Madison on the track.”

For many new fans of cycling, the Madison can be a confusing event, with one rider from each team riding slowly around the top of the track with the frenetic action of the race happening just below them. D’hoore however, has what she sees as a failsafe way of knowing what is happening in the race.

“Just look at the Belgians, and then you know who’s leading!” she laughed. “No, no, just joking…

“It’s difficult. I don’t know.”

For the riders also, the Madison event is more complicated than all the other track races, but this is one of the big things that the World Champion loves about it.

“It’s so technical. You can’t race it like the Points Race,” D’hoore explained. “You’ve got to think about when you’re going to swing your mate into the race, and you have to think about how fast you’re riding when you’re out of the race. It has so many points to think about, and that’s why I like it. It’s not only riding your bike; you also have to use your head.

“It’s a great event, and it’s so good for Track Cycling that it’s become Olympic again, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s like art,” she added. “I just love it. We Belgians are just born with it I guess. I’ve been doing Madisons since I was 12 years old on the track. We just love it, and that’s one of the things we can do. The British can do a Team Pursuit, and we can do a Madison!”

The Madison has been a fixture in elite men’s cycling for more than a century. It has been a World Championship event since 1995, and was in the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008; it was lost to the Olympic programme ahead of London 2012, along with the Individual Pursuit, as men’s and women’s racing were given medal parity with five events each.

It has only been in recent years that it has been available as an event for elite women, however, becoming part of the World Championships only this year. Its return to the Olympic programme, for both men and women this time, is an indication of how women’s cycling is growing, and will be a catalyst for even more growth, D’hoore thinks.

“I think Track Cycling for women will now become bigger and bigger with the Madison,” D’hoore smiled. “I think a lot of road riders will come to the track now for the Madison because I think it’s a perfect combination to do road and track now. So yeah, it’s getting bigger and bigger and that’s good for us.”

Photo Credit: Union Cycliste International (UCI)

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Jolien D’hoore takes second Women’s Tour Jersey in Sprints Classification

Ben Atkins : 9th June 2017 6:49 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore has added the black and orange team’s second leader’s jersey of the 2017 OVO Energy Women’s Tour in the Eisberg Sprints Classification. The former Belgian Champion will wear the distinctive, striped red jersey on the fourth stage, alongside teammate Audrey Cordon-Ragot, who has held the black Mountains Classification Jersey since stage one.

“A jersey is always nice for the team, it’s good exposure,” D’hoore said. “We already had one with Audrey, and having an extra one if just good for the team, so I’m happy.”

D’hoore had finished second and first in the two sprints of stage one, making her the joint leader in the classification. More points gained on stage three, between Atherstone and Royal Leamington Spa – with second place in Kenilworth and third in Wellesbourne – mean that she is now the outright leader.

“It’s not like I’m going 100% for the jersey, it’s just when I’m there and I can take some points, then I’ll take some points,” D’hoore explained. “It’s not like an obsessive goal for me; I’m just here to help the team, and be in breakaways. But when I can grab some points along the way then I will.”

The 150.8km third stage was another tough ordeal for the peloton, with conditions on the rolling roads made harder by more adverse weather conditions. There were numerous crashes, one of which brought down Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini, but the Italian escaped without serious injury.

Once the day’s breakaway had been caught, the stage was won by former black and orange rider Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini), with Giorgia Bronzini Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s taking her second fourth place of the week.

“It’s always up and down, and quite lumpy,” D’hoore laughed. “It’s hard enough for me! I could hang on, on the climbs, but it’s day three and a lot of girls are getting tired. You can definitely feel it in your legs! But I had a pretty good day, and it’s getting better and better.

“I will suffer again tomorrow, I guess, but I’m looking forward to the last stage in London.”

With longer stages than previously in the 2017 OVO Women’s Tour, the extra kilometres are making the race even tougher for the peloton than usual, D’hoore thinks.

“It’s like 150km, with a neutral of 10km, so it’s more like 160km today,” she said. “The last hour makes a big difference for everybody. We’re not used to it. It’s quite hard, and the race itself is quite hard, so that’s what makes it a tough stage race for everybody, I guess.

“But so far we did really well with the team, and now we’re just chasing a stage victory,” D’hoore added.

1. Chloe Hosking (Alé–Cipollini)
2. Alice Barnes (Drops Cycling)
3. Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb)
4. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

Photo Credit: Anton Vos


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Audrey Cordon-Ragot climbs into Mountains Jersey in OVO Women’s Tour

Ben Atkins : 7th June 2017 6:01 pm : News

A typically aggressive day from Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s road captain Audrey Cordon-Ragot saw the French Time Trial Champion end the opening stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in the black Skoda Queen of the Mountains Jersey. After winning over the first, 3rd category climb of Haselbech after 24.8km, the Breton rider then went on to take the much harder, 2nd category Rockingham Hill after 73.9km, all while performing her usual hard-working role for her teammates.

“I was feeling all right today, and [Directeur Sportif Martin Vestby] said that we were allowed to go for it if we were in a good position so I did!” she laughed. “It was open to any of us to go if we had the opportunity, so when I saw I was in a good position for the first one I just jumped on the chance.

“And then Martin asked to do the second one so it was all right for me.”

Former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini finished the 147.5km stage, between Daventry and Kettering, Northamptonshire, in fourth place, as the peloton sprinted behind solo winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling).

“We are a bit disappointed about the result,” Cordon-Ragot explained. “We really wanted to win this stage and we tried hard to bridge on Kasia but we missed organisation and cooperation with the other teams.

“Everybody gambled a bit with the others and obviously it wasn’t the best choice when you have such a strong rider up the front,” she admitted.

With four stages of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour remaining, however – after Bronzini’s position in Kettering’s technical finish, and Jolien D’hoore’s first and second places in the two intermediate sprints – Cordon-Ragot feels that the team is still ready to take some good results away from the race.

“Yes we are ready to fight to the end to get a stage win,” she confirmed. “If we need to sacrifice my jersey for a stage than I do it with pleasure for one of my teammates.

“We’ll see…”

1. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling)
2. Marianne Vos (WM3 Pro Cycling)
3. Christin Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
4. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

Photo Credit: Anton Vos


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Longo Borghini and D’hoore headline strong Wiggle High5 team at Women’s Tour

Ben Atkins : 30th May 2017 8:00 am : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s powerful team for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour will be headlined by Elisa Longo Borghini and Jolien D’hoore, who have both enjoyed considerable success in Britain’s biggest race. Longo Borghini finished third overall in the 2016 edition of the event, having been voted the most combative rider in the 2015 edition, while D’hoore won the second stage in 2015 and finished the race in second place overall.

“I’m really looking forward to the Women’s Tour because it looks like a great race,” Longo Borghini said of the challenging 2017 route. “It looks very hard as well, and also spectacular with the finish in London. I’m very curious to see how it will be, and how the race will be held.

“It’s also very nice to race in the UK, because the crowd is very cheerful, and its very nice to be there.”

The Italian Time Trial Champion is restarting her season after having taken a break at the end of a successful spring. Despite finishing the Classics campaign, suffering will illness, Longo Borghini won arguably the most prestigious race of her national calendar, the Strade Bianche, which saw her lead the Women’s WorldTour for several weeks.

“Finally I’m healthy again, because I’ve been through some bad weeks; from Amstel on,” she explained. “I took one week off, then I started building up again. I feel fine now, and hopefully I can be in good shape for the Women’s Tour. I will try to work very well with my team, and I’m pretty sure we can achieve good results.

“Jolien will be there, and there are some stages where she can be strong,” Longo Borghini continued. “Giorgia [Bronzini] will be very active as always; we also have Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] and Emilia [Fahlin] there, and they are super strong. Claudia [Lichtenberg] looks very good, because I’ve been in altitude with her, and she was very strong.

“So I’m very confident in the team,” the Italian concluded.

D’hoore too has enjoyed a successful spring, with a victory in the first ever World Championship Madison added to several wins on the road. Early May saw the three-time Belgian Champion take two stages and the overall victory in the Tour of Chongming Island, and she is keen to return to WorldTour action as the OVO Energy Women’s Tour starts in Daventry next week.

“I’ve done it now two times. Last year was a bit harder for me than two years ago, but it’s really fun racing and there are a lot of crowds and a good atmosphere,” she said. “The courses are always really tough, but that makes it good racing as well.

“I always look forward to racing in the UK. In Yorkshire it was incredible; so many people were cheering or us, and I think it will be the same for the Women’s Tour I think.”

With D’hoore and former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini spearheading the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling sprint team, the black and orange squad will have plenty of options for the fast-finishing stages. Despite the criterium-like London finish to the five-day race, however, D’hoore has her sights set on day one.

“We have to see,” she said. “We also have Giorgia there, so we are there with two sprinters. I’m especially looking forward to the first stage; the finish is in Kettering, and we had the finish there also last year. I know how it is, and I think it can be a sprint with a big group.

“So I’m just looking forward to the first stage, and then we’ll see how it’ll go with the team.”

Alongside Longo Borghini, D’hoore and Bronzini will be the two powerhouses of Emilia Fahlin and Audrey Cordon-Ragot, who have both excelled in the Women’s Tour in previous editions. Cordon-Ragot’s late attack almost netted her the final stage victory in 2015, while former Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin was the most combative rider of last year’s race.

The team will be completed by German climber Claudia Lichtenberg, who will be well equipped to either work hard for her teammates or take chances for glory herself.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour
Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Jolien D’hoore (Belgium), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)


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Lucy Garner wins the bunch sprint for third in Omloop van de Ijsseldelta

Ben Atkins : 20th May 2017 7:45 pm : News

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Lucy Garner won the bunch sprint for third place in the Omloop van de Ijsseldelta, in Zwolle, in the east of the Netherlands, at the end of a fast, rainy race. Victory was taken by Nina Buysman (Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil), ahead of Loes Adegeest (NWVG-uplus), after the two riders escaped with just over 10km to go. Garner was the best of a number of fast-finishers just ten seconds later.

“It was really nice,” Garner laughed. “Already yesterday I was feeling the pressure a bit when Jolien said she wanted to sprint for me. That was a lot on my shoulders!“I really wanted this opportunity and I just took it,” she added. “Obviously it would have been nice to have been sprinting for the win, but that’s racing. It was just nice to get back in the mix in the final.”

The Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team started the 134km race with just four riders, with Garner supported by younger sister Grace, Julie Leth and Jolien D’hoore. Unfortunately, despite having fully recovered from the crash injuries sustained in the Tour of Chongming Island, D’hoore was forced to pull out with illness.

“It was a hard race to judge because we weren’t entirely sure how strong the wind was going to be,” Garner explained. “I think, with having only three riders left, we did the best that we could. We rode really well together, we communicated well, and we were trying not to waste too much energy.

“In one way we went into the race to try and split it up as much as possible, but we weren’t able to do that,” the former two time junior World Champion continued. “We were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t break up the peloton any more, but we have to look at the positive and think that it’s nice that we can do this with three riders. Everyone played a massive role, and we were happy with the finish.”

Although the black and orange team was below strength coming into the race finale, the lessons learned from such a successful race on Chongming Island two weeks before were carried into the Dutch race.

“We learned a lot from China, so today – and in races in the future – we can take what we’ve learned and use it in the races,” Garner said. “We showed again today how much of a team we are together.

“One big thing that we came away with from China is the communication, and today it was perfect. Obviously, it was gutting for us to see that Jolien wasn’t feeling well and had to pull out, but Julie always plays a good role as captain.

“We’ve all grown together and we’re pulling together really well as a team now.”

Photo Credit: Anton Vos

1. Nina Buysman (Parkhotel Valkenburg-Destil)
2. Loes Adegeest (NWVG-uplus)
3. Lucy Garner (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)


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