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Longo Borghini made her long-awaited return to competition last week following a six-week break after a busy spring period where she struggled with illness before going on to win Paris-Roubaix Femmes with a solo break.
The Italian national champion took victory on the “queen stage” to Black Mountain and went on to win the overall title by the slimmest of margins, for her first GC title since 2019. It’s a good sign for the 30-year-old with the Giro d’Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes on the horizon.
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“This is a big relief to win this race because it has been a strange spring for me. Now I am back to my normal level. It’s nice to win an overall classification, this has not happened to me many times in my life. It’s only the third tour I have won; this one is up there as one that ranks high,” Longo Borghini said after her victory.
Longo Borghini went into the final stage equal on time with FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope’s Grace Brown, who had taken the race lead a day earlier. With the day expected to go to the sprinters, it would come down to the bonus seconds available out on the road.
It looked like Longo Borghini was out for the count in the GC competition after Brown mopped up the full complement of intermediate sprint bonus seconds at Caterton while the Italian missed out after crossing the line in fourth.
There was one more opportunity to claw it back at the finish line, but Longo Borghini was doubtful of her chances after losing out in a sprint for the win on stage 4.
“We decided to go for the intermediate sprint, and I was fourth, so I was like okay, that’s the second place and that’s it. But then all my teammates kept my morale up and said we try at the finish, and we’ll do the leadout for you,” Longo Borghini explained. “I was really doubting, but when you see such a team that is motivated and they are really believing in you, just want to give them back everything.
“In the end, they all did a perfect job and Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] led me into the final 500m. I know that in corners I am good, and I let some riders in front of me to take their draft, and I made my own sprint.”
Longo Borghini is not known for her sprint finish but she has been working on it in recent years and, with the Women’s Tour GC being defined by them, she’s planning to sprint for a few more town signs in future.
“I sprint with my boyfriend Jacopo [Mosca — a Trek-Segafredo rider] for town signs. We stopped for a bit and were joking a few days ago that we regretted this after the sprint in Stage 3 when I was third. I think we will be back sprinting for town signs again soon,” Longo Borghini said.
“Lizzie [Deignan] sent me a nice message yesterday and said remember my sprint in 2019. That was such a close battle again with Kasia Niewiadoma and she made it, so yeah it was nice to hear from her about that.”