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Despite initially claiming that she would not be targeting the general classification at this year’s Giro d’Italia Donne, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) put in a spirited effort on stage 8 to come within a minute of the podium at her home race.
The Italian started Saturday’s stage in fourth, 3 minutes 21 seconds down on third-placed Mavi García (UAE Team ADQ), and came close to overtaking the Spaniard by finishing 2 minutes 28 seconds ahead of her.
After finishing fifth on the opening time trial, Longo Borghini hasn’t left the top six on the general classification all race. The 30-year-old was among the riders who lost 4 minutes 51 to Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar) and García on stage 4 to Cesena, but after climbing to fifth on stage 6’s mountain-top finish, she began to look like a contender for the podium.
After stage 6, Longo Borghini was still more than four minutes off the podium, but after climbing well to take third on stage 7 – plus benefitting from García fading on the final climb – the Italian had only a three minute gap to close to climb to third overall.
This may have seemed a big ask, but with Longo Borghini in some of the best climbing form of her career and García seemingly struggling, it was not impossible.
Trek-Segafredo made their intentions clear early on, sending Tour de Suisse winner Lucinda Brand up the road in the chasing group to act as a satellite rider, giving Longo Borghini a chance at an easier ride in the maglia rosa group.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) July 9, 2022
When the race hit the Passo Daone, Longo Borghini was initially distanced as Van Vleuten, Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and García pressed on, but she rode a steady pace on the climb, overtaking the then-dropped García and attacking the descent to rejoin Van Vleuten on the flat.
The Italian then did the bulk of the work in the maglia rosa group, trying to pull out as much of an advantage on García as possible. In the end, her efforts fell short, making a big dent but still 49 seconds behind the UAE rider.
Though Longo Borghini is not a stranger to winning a GC fight on a sprint day – she won the Women’s Tour last month by taking bonus seconds in the final sprint – 49 seconds may be too much to turn around on tomorrow’s stage.
That said, Longo Borghini and Trek certainly have a power advantage over García and UAE Team ADQ, so the Giro is not over until it’s over.