Elisa Longo Borghini took the victory on San Luca ahead of Veronica Ewers of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB and Sofia Bertizzolo of UAE Team ADQ. Arlenis Sierra was 4th ahead of Yara Kastelijn in 5th.
A short race, this year’s Giro dell’Emilia was 89.7km and nearly completely flat behind ascending the famous San Luca climb in Bologne. That meant just 2km of climbing pretty much for the whole race. The race marked a shift with Elisa Balsamo finally wearing the national champion colours of Italy in a home race after a year spent in the rainbow stripes.
With such a flat parcours, there was much opportunity for riders to get clear. After 50km, Alice Palazzi gave it a go and was caught with around 13 kilometres to go, however. Matilde VItilio, winner of a WWT stage at the Vuelta a Burgos had tried to bridge the gap but ended up in a chasse patate instead.
That meant everything was set for San Luca. The steep climb has parts up to 20% and only the best can remain at the front. BikeExchange-Jayco and FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope led the bunch into the climb, with a large bunch still involved due to the ease of the route. With the likes of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Mavi Garcia not on the start list in the end, it was Elisa Longo Borghini who won by 3 seconds ahead of the American Ewers.
“It’s been six years since my last win here and a lot of things have changed since then! Of course, obviously, the jersey I wear, but also my level. I am a stronger rider now. It has also changed that I am getting old, but I hope to be like a fine wine and just get better.
I prefer a more challenging and harder race. We usually race more than 90kms and I would like to see maybe two times this final climb. In the end the first part was easy on paper, but we raced it with a fast pace.
The Saint Luca climb is a special climb with some steep parts followed by some flatter parts. So a lot depends on how you will face it. The final 100 meters are the secret and it’s important to not start too early. This is what I did. I waited to find the right moment at the end to attack and win the race.”Elisa Longo Borghini
Main image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency