Elisa Longo Borghini takes advantage of a crosswind section to gain time in GC at the Tour de France Femmes
The Tour de France Femmes Stage 2 played out calmly until the final 20 kilometers, when a crosswind section kicked off furious action, thanks to a cunning pre-race plan by Trek-Segafredo.
Leading the way, Elisa Balsamo and Elisa Longo Borghini planned an attack after the intermediate sprint, catching the sprinters – including the yellow jersey of Lorena Wiebes – and most GC rivals off-guard.
Balsamo and Longo Borghini joined forces with Marianne Vos and three others to lead a thrilling pursuit game until the end.
“It was planned this morning in the briefing that there was this crosswind section after the sprint at the finish line, and we should take this opportunity to take advantage of sprinters and other GC riders, and we did,” said Longo Borghini.
Behind the damage was immense. The peloton exploded in the crosswinds, leaving many teams with little firepower to garner a concerted chase.
The gap grew from 20 seconds to 40 seconds as the chasing bunch faltered against the power in the leading group, largely thanks to Elisa Balsamo.
“Elisa Balsamo was great – she was pulling like there was no tomorrow for me,” said Longo Borghini.
It was soon evident that the world champion was putting everything into keeping the group ahead, giving one last massive pull ahead of the red kite. After she pulled off, Longo Borghini attacked.
But the group, especially a savvy Marianne Vos, who was poised to take the yellow jersey, was quick to react.
In the end, Vos easily won the sprint and claimed the yellow jersey. Elisa Longo-Borghini finished fourth.
“Chapeau to Marianne, she was really strong today. In this kind of finale, Marianne is always really, really strong. What can you do? I tried to go early to keep the speed up, so our work was not [wasted]. In the end, you have to gamble,” Longo Borghini explained.
The tactic played by Trek-Segafredo was to gain time in the overall classification, with a stage result playing a secondary role. While the Team missed out on a podium finish, Longo Borghini put her GC rivals on the back foot and gained over 30 seconds in time.
“I can pace myself on the climbs, but maybe I cannot follow the pure climbers, so I need to gain time somewhere. I am never comfortable when those goats are going, so I had to try something. As a team, we worked well; we can be happy. Our tactics were clear, and you just have to try something and have fun,” she smiled.
Everyone knows there are no easy days in the Tour de France.