Trek Segafredo and Elisa Longo Borghini stamped their authority on the UAE Tour Women with a commanding display on Jebel Hafeet. The rest of the peloton had no answer to the climbing of new signing Gaia Realini nor the experienced pro of Elisa Longo Borghini. The duo rode away from all their rivals and engineered a 1-2 finish for the team.
The stage started with an attack by Lara Crestanello of BePink and Iris Monticolo of Top Girls Fassa Bortolo that later saw them joined by Nina Kessler and Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka after the pair sprinted at the intermediate point. The peloton seemed content to let them go as it looked like we were heading for a traditional breakaway stage with them reeled in either before or on the climb. That was blown out of the water when Marta Cavalli was distanced after hanging at the back of the peloton whilst it wound its way through 2 tight corners, unusual this week. The combination of the peloton slowing and stretching, plus the feed zone immediately afterwards saw Cavalli in a split behind the front group.
Trek Segafredo and others were keen not to repeat the mistakes of Stage 2 and pushed up the pace to ensure the GC favourite couldn’t get back to the front. The wind began to hit and those unable to keep with the pace found themselves off the back. The surprise drop of Liane Lippert though meant that all of the Movistar team had to drop back to unsuccessfully bring her back. By the base of Jebel Hafeet, Cavalli was 3 minutes back and needed a miracle to close up. Lippert was around 1 minute behind.
The early climbing saw Kristen Faulkner take up the pace but it wasn’t to last. Team Jayco-AlUla said post-stage that they were assessing where she is but her important goals are all later in the season. As Realini took to the front, more and more riders began dropping until it was just a small group left containing the Italian, Longo Borghini, Peperkamp, Shackley, Chabbey, Persico and Harvey. But none of them were able to keep up with the pace of the Italian pair.
As the lead pair chatted and smiled, the instruction came from their team director that Longo Borghini was going to win the stage. They both crossed the line together, holding hands aloft. Behind them, Silvia Persico sprinted into 3rd place ahead of Peperkamp who took the best result of her career so far. The GC battle now sees Longo Borghini and Realini both over a minute ahead of their rivals.
“Realini was really the most important rider today. I really owe a lot to Realini, she was very important today. She set a very fast pace. We knew that if we kept our pace we could cross the finish line together. From the team car, after some calculations, it was finally decided to let me win because of the standings.
I have to thank the whole team. They’ve been riding in the wind for me all day. When Cavalli fell behind we tried to keep the pace high so she couldn’t come back. They are real champions.”Elisa Longo Borghini
2023 UAE Tour Women Stage 3 results
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