Madrid Challenge: Elisa Balsamo takes final stage sprint, Lisa Brennauer secures title

GC decided by close battle between Brennauer, Wiebes and Longo Borghini for intermediate sprint points.

Elisa Balsamo (Valcar Travel & Service) outsprinted Lorena Wiebes (Sunweb) to take the final critérium stage of the Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta on Sunday. Marta Bastianelli (Alé-BTC) took third.

Overnight race leader Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT) secured the overall win after a close battle for bonus sprint points, so defending her 2019 title.

Balsamo timed her sprint to perfection having profited from the powerful lead out of her team in downtown Madrid on Sunday. The young Italian waited for Wiebes to open her sprint before latching onto the Dutchwoman’s wheel and kick past her in the final 50 meters to win by less than a bike length.

The GC battle came down to a cagey fight for intermediate sprints in the 17-lap race. Wiebes started the day in fifth, 18 seconds down on Brennauer, and made it her mission to scoop as many of the mid-race bonuses as possible, taking the first, third and fourth of the seven opportunities available to her.

After the fourth sprint, a small group led by Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) went clear. The moment the bunch was caught, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), who started the day second overall, counter-attacked solo and soon gained a sizeable lead, pressuring Brennauer’s GC position. The Italian champion scooped up the fifth and sixth sprints, leaving Brennauer and Wiebes to scrap for the leftovers.

It was inevitable that Longo Borghini would fade, and eventually, she was caught up by the peloton in time for Brennauer to secure the final bonus sprint. From there on, the race was together as Sunweb and Valcar Travel & Service jostled to set up the final sprint between Wiebes and Balsamo.

Having had the upper-hand in the close-fought points battle through the stage, Brennauer secured the race, beating Longo Borghini by 12 seconds, with Wiebes one second behind her.

Brennauer successfully defended her 2019 title. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Stage 3 results:

  1. Elisa Balsamo (Valcar Travel & Service): 2:16:49
  2. Lorena Wiebes (Sunweb): S.T
  3. Marta Basianelli (Ale-BTC): S.T

Final GC:

  1. Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT): 4:29:21
  2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo): +0:12
  3. Lorena Wiebes (Sunweb): +0:13