Italian road and TT champion Elisa Longo Borghini put in a brilliant effort on stage 2 of Challenge by La Vuelta, missing out on the win by less than one second while her teammate Ellen van Dijk secured the final podium place.
Clad in her beautiful Santini tricolore skinsuit, Longo Borghini started the 9.3km individual time trial in Boadilla del Monte in 15th place in the overall standings and put in an amazing, and by her own admission, surprising performance, stopping the clock in 12 minutes and 41 seconds and establishing the best provisional time.
“To be honest I wasn’t really all that prepared for the time trial. I just warmed up and then went as fast as I could. In my mind, it wasn’t really an ITT that played into my strengths. It was very short, with a lot of corners where I had to relaunch by bike isn’t something that normally suits me. So, I just went relaxed into it and tried to take the corners as fast as I could and in the end, I had the best time. I didn’t even realize it; I had gotten so much encouragement from the car behind me that at a point I was laughing during my time trial. It was really nice!” said Longo Borghini.
After some minutes in the hot seat, Longo Borghini was eventually dethroned by German national champion Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) who was less than a second faster on the short and flat parcours.
“The TT course was a very technical and fast 12-minute effort,” echoed van Dijk. “There was a lot of sprinting, cornering, and accelerating. It was raining and that made the corners extra difficult. I felt pretty good and I think I did a good time trial but Lisa and Elisa were faster.
“I really wanted to win today but I was happy to see such a good performance by Elisa. We’re now in a good position on the GC and even if we’re not known as the fastest riders in the peloton we want to end the season on a good note and give it a good go tomorrow in the final stage,” added van Dijk, whose time was only four seconds off the fastest time of Brennauer.
With these results, Longo Borghini will go into the third and final stage of Challenge by La Vuelta in second place in the overall classification, just 10 seconds adrift on the new GC leader Brennauer, while teammate Ellen Van Dijk is sitting in 3rd at 13 seconds.