The Italian finishes in 3rd place in Stage 8 at the Giro Donne and maintains 4th place overall
Elisa Longo Borghini finished in fifth place in Stage 7, the first of three straight days in the mountains at the Giro d’Italia Donne, and went even better in Stage 8, finishing third on a tough mountain day and rewarded with a trip onto the podium.
For a rider who stated at the start of the 2022 Giro d’Italia that she was not going for the general classification, after two of three mountain stages, she sits in fourth place.
“I am very happy with my result today; it is a beautiful third place,” said Elisa. “Once again, the first thing I want to do is thanking my team for the support they gave me today. Today’s podium is the result of teamwork. For the umpteenth time we showed that we are the reference team in the peloton. Everyone could see the work we did today.
“Of course on the road you can find someone stronger and you have to accept it, with serenity. But it is good to know that we leave no stone unturned, that we have a strategy and a running plan. Racing in this team is very nice and rewarding.”
Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar) grabbed her second stage win and increased her lead in the overall. She now looks certain to win her 3rd Giro Donne title.
HOW IT PLAYED OUT
Stage 8 featured two hefty mountain climbs and a downhill finish. Teammate Lucinda Brand drove the pace on the first downhill until the start of the second and final climb where she left Elisa to do what Elisa does: disregard the accelerations of the mountain goats and find her pace. That strategy paid off again.
“Lucinda’s downhill action was a masterpiece,” pointed out Elisa. “That is what makes me the happiest on days like these. We all work in sync; we have a plan and we apply ourselves 100% to make it.”
She continued: “On the climbs I knew I didn’t have the pace of Van Vleuten or Cavalli. I certainly don’t feel inferior, but right now I still lack something to keep up with them when the road goes uphill. Today I chose to keep my pace, focusing on myself, doing my best and never giving up. If there is something that sets me apart, it is stubbornness and conviction.”
At the start of the final climb, the top three in the standings – Van Vleuten, Mavi Garcia (UAE) and Marta Cavalli (FDJ)- pulled away, and everything appeared to be playing out as expected.
Then Garcia blew. And the ever-steady Elisa came from behind to catch and drop the Spaniard who came into the day in 2nd overall.
Elisa eventually caught Kristen Faulkner (Bike Exchange-Jayco), the lone breakaway rider, and the two crested the final climb around two minutes behind the Maglia Rosa with Cavalli in between.
One of the best in downhills, Elisa managed to distance Faulkner ahead of the finish and take a well-earned podium placing.
Elisa explained: “Going strong and well in the downhill is a skill I’ve always had. I am not a multi-discipline athlete, a trending topic for many people who think this is the only key to riding strong on the descents. But along with pedaling flat and uphill, I was taught the downhill and, by my own will, I learned to race in wind, rain and adverse conditions. This is what racing is all about. The seconds you gain on the uphill are just as valuable as those on the downhill or in any other situation.”
Elisa holds fourth GC and has crept a little closer to third. Still, three minutes separate her from the overall podium, but as witnessed today, anything can happen in the mountains. The Queen stage is tomorrow, and Elisa may or may not ride herself into an unexpected finish.
“Our goal at the Giro was and is to go for stages,” she reiterated. “I reduced the distance to the podium, but that doesn’t change our vision. Attacking for the podium was not in our plan today. Tomorrow will be another tough stage and I might have a good day, like today, or I might not.
“I am a pragmatic person by nature: better to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground and see in the race what will happen. Mavi Garcia did not have a great day today, but so far she has been very solid. She is an athlete I respect a lot and I am convinced she will make up for it tomorrow.”