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BAR-SUR-AUBE, France (VN) — Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) survived a late puncture on the gravel of stage 4 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift to keep herself within touching distance of the yellow jersey.
Longo Borghini went into Wednesday’s stage just 16 seconds off the top spot, after making it into the winning break on stage 2, and with a hard-earned advantage over most of her GC rivals.
The former Strade Bianche champion was enjoying a strong showing on the rough roads of the Champagne region of France until the mechanical issue befell her on the final gravel sector. Some quick thinking by her teammates meant she was back on the road before she lost too much time.
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“Everything was going well until I was in the last sector and then I got a puncture almost at the end,” Longo Borghini said at the finish line. “Elisa [Balsamo] was straight on me, and she gave me her bike, it was really good, because otherwise, I would have lost a lot of seconds.
“Shirin was waiting for me, and she tried to bring me back, but she had flat tires. Ellen did wait for me, and we didn’t have any time to change back the bike.”
Having taken Balsamo’s bike to make her chase, Longo Borghini would have to ride it all the way to the finish line as the race was well and truly on. Shortly before her puncture, Marlen Reusser had attacked, and several riders were bridging over to her.
Fortunately for Longo Borghini, none of the major GC favorites got off the front and she was able to return to the yellow jersey group. Speaking to the press at the finish line, Longo Borghini was still on Balsamo’s bike with its rainbow-inspired paint scheme.
It might not have been the most comfortable ride for Longo Borghini but it was a little special for her to ride the world champion’s bike.
“We are a little bit the same size, so there’s not much difference, but she’s a very short stem and a little higher saddle than me. It was OK, not the best but OK,” she said. “It doesn’t happen in many teams that the world champion gives you the bike, so I was pretty honored to ride her bike until the end.
“Shirin tried to bring me back, but she had two flat tires. Ellen [van Dijk] then waited for me and brought me back to the peloton. Everyone did a great job, Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] was always keeping me at the front, Leah [Thomas] was bringing me bottles. I’m proud of them.”