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MULHOUSE, France (VN) — Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) tried to track down the relentless attack of Annemiek van Vleuten on stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, but the effort would eventually come back to bite her.
Van Vleuten attacked with Demi Vollering on the first climb of the Petit Ballon, swallowing up a group of attackers that had a slim lead over them. Longo Borghini did her best to try and reel them in, but she blew up on the final ascent of the Grand Ballon.
The result left her in tears just beyond the finish line as her team members did their best to cheer her up. As she stood to talk briefly to the media, she was unsteady on her feet, the effort still showing.
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“I’m completely exhausted. I’ve been alone for a really long time. For me, what really killed me was the valley, but I gave it my best, and that’s it. In the end, if you did your best that’s all you can do. I really gave it my best,” she said. “Mentally, it was all good, it was just my legs that were not working.”
After spending so much time alone over the climbs and then along the valley road between the Col du Platzerwasel and the Grand Ballon, Longo Borghini really began to suffer. She had been only 1:35 behind Van Vleuten and Vollering near the top of the Platzerwasel but that gap would balloon out when Van Vleuten pushed on over the top.
She still held an advantage over the chasers behind as she hit the bottom of the final climb, but she was quickly caught and dropped. Longo Borghini ultimately gave away 6:56 to Van Vleuten by the time she crossed the line and slipped three places in the overall standings.
“It was a time trial for a hundred kilometers. I just couldn’t stop. The valley killed me, and I was rock climbing up the last climb but, what can I say, that’s bike racing,” Longo Borghini said.
Van Vleuten’s form was a relative unknown given that she had been suffering from a stomach problem in the early part of the race. With her performance Saturday, it was a sign that she hadn’t been slowed by the illness.
Despite seeing her struggling earlier in the race, Longo Borghini was not surprised that she had bounced back.
“We all knew that she was the strongest. I didn’t believe for one second that she was no good,”