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Victory slips through Grace Brown’s fingers in final day heartbreak in Women’s Tour

'I wasn’t just sitting up and rolling to the finish. Elisa made the most of it though,' Australian says.

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Overall victory looked assured for Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) on the final stage of the Women’s Tour but a dramatic late charge by Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo) saw the Italian take the yellow jersey on the line by just a single second.

Brown and Longo Borghini came into the final stage to Oxford tied on the same time but with the Australian in the yellow jersey.

The opening intermediate sprint saw Brown extend her lead and take the maximum three seconds available, while Longo Borghini saw her efforts end in vain with a fourth-place finish and bonuses.

Also read: Women’s Tour stage 6: Lorena Wiebes makes it three, Elisa Longo Borghini pounces on GC victory

It looked as though Brown would come to the line and take her first GC win since moving to FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope in the winter but with bonus seconds up for grabs in the sprint finish the Australian couldn’t afford to switch off.

Lorena Wiebes took the stage win for Team DSM but Longo Borghini – not a typical bunch sprinter – fought her way towards the front in the technical finale and powered home to take four seconds on the line courtesy of her third-place finish.

At the finish many of the riders assumed that Brown had done enough to win the race until it was confirmed that Longo Borghini had scored the seconds need to take the overall win.

After the podium celebrations in the center of Oxford, and as Longo Borghini stepped off the podium in yellow, Brown spoke exclusively to VeloNews.

“I took the first intermediate sprint that put me three seconds ahead. We thought that we were pretty safe for the final as long as there were no gaps but it was really messy and Trek did an amazing leadout to put Elisa in a really good position ahead of the corners. That had her there to sprint for third, which we really didn’t expect. I don’t know where I placed, maybe a little bit behind but chapeau to her for an amazing sprint finish,” Brown said.

“I knew that the finish was technical and that I had to be in a good position because when there are all those corners it would be really messy. I wasn’t just sitting up and rolling to the finish. Elisa made the most of it though.”

Despite the obvious disappointment at missing out on the overall win, Brown could take consolation in how she had performed throughout the six-day race. She took her first win in FDJ colors and put in a stellar defense of her lead on the summit finish on stage 5.

“There’s still a consolation for me in terms of the rest of the race. I knew that coming into today it was close and there was a chance that I wouldn’t finish the day with the jersey, so I was already happy with the Women’s Tour. When I got the sprint seconds I thought that maybe I had it already, and then to lose it was disappointing but overall I’m very happy with the week,” she said.

 

Brown will now take a short break from racing, with an extended stay in the UK before flying home to Australia. The Tour de France Femmes is on the horizon but for now it’s time to draw a line after a long period of racing.

“I’m staying in the UK for a week and then I’m going back to Australia. I’ll miss the Giro and then I’ll come back for the Tour. I won’t be there for the GC but potentially there might be a stage for me earlier on in the race. The GC is the priority. When I’m back in Australia I’ll do a recon for Worlds but it’s mostly for a mental break and to see my friends and family. It feels like it’s been a long season already.”