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PROVINS, France (VN) – Crashes and crosswinds proved pivotal in Trek-Segafredo captain Elisa Longo Borghini gaining a hearty 40 seconds on the overall during stage 2 of the Tour de France Femmes avezc Zwift on Monday.
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage with a commanding, on-brand sprint, but other teams took advantage of variables like weather and unfortunate accidents to send GC riders further into the finishing fray.
Trek-Segafredo’s GC contender Longo Borghini was fourth on the day, and the Italian said that the stage couldn’t have gone better for her team. She gave unadulterated credit to world champion Elisa Balsamo.
“Today we really planned to go after the intermediate sprint at the finish line because we were told it was a good place to attack as a team because there was some crosswind and we wanted to gain some time from GC,” she said. “All the team was really super.
“Elisa Balsamo was really, really strong. She was pulling really strong, something that you can’t expect from a sprinter, but she’s more than a sprinter, she’s a champion and she owns that jersey.”
Ina Teutenberg, Trek-Segafredo’s DS, admitted that the team’s plan — created this morning upon looking at the day’s forecast — wasn’t genius: “I mean that’s what every team knows too, so it’s not that I know more than other teams.”
However, her riders were fortunate to be able to execute it after not getting caught in any of the numerous crashes throughout the stage.
“There was a lot of carnage,” she said. “A lot. It was all split up because of it. It was already split up before, then it got stretched out with all the stuff, and I think it was hard for some teams to be organized because they had lost some riders so yeah, it was kinda pretty nasty there.”
The American squad dominated a crucial six-rider escape that went clear in the final 20km. Longo Borghini and Balsamo animated the escape, with Balsamo making the pivotal move after the intermediate sprint.
Longo Borghini, Vos, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel & Service) and breakaway rider Maike van der Duin (Le Col–Wahoo) jumped into the world champ’s wheels and the sextet got the gap.
Annemiek van Vleuten missed the move and Movistar chased hard, but the escapees were never seen again as they surged to a 40-second lead.
40 seconds can be a lot or a little, depending on where it comes during the race.
“It might not matter at all,” Teutenberg said. “We might be stuck behind carnage in the next days. We’ll just see, but it’s good to be up front and try to put a little bit of a stamp on the bike race.
“It’s a long way to the mountains, and I think today showed us there are still some other things which have have to be important for the overall.”
Longo Borghini agreed that the 40 seconds were more like a small bank deposit, not a guarantee.
“The Tour de France is pretty long, so surely it’s a little bit more like saving a little bit of money, then I have something to spare,” she said. “I can pace myself really well on the climbs, but the pure climbers are probably 10 kilos less than me … I’m never in comfort when all those goats are going. But yeah, you have to try something.”