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Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) won stage 8 of the Giro Rosa, her first stage win in her ninth participation in the Italian Grand Tour. The 28-year-old allrounder attacked with Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) on the steep slopes of the final climb, and the two held a sizable advantage when the climb flattened out 2km from the line before it steepened again for the final kilometre.
On the uphill finish, Longo Borghini beat Van der Breggen to the line in a close sprint. The Dutch champion gained enough time on overnight race leader Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) to take over the pink jersey with only one stage to come.
"I've been waiting many years for this victory, my first at the Giro Rosa, and I've tried many times this week," Longo Borghini said at the finish. "I want to thank my team, Trek-Segafredo, that set me up so well."
Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott), who had led the overall classification after winning stage 2, was forced to abandon the race due to a fractured wrist sustained in a crash on the previous day.
Van der Breggen said that gaining the pink jersey after Van Vleuten's crash the previous day is not how she would have wanted it.
"This is not how you hope to get the pink and I hope everyone who was in the crash yesterday will be fine," van der Breggen said. "But you could feel that the fighting spirit was back in the race, today, and that was a good thing. Today was a hard stage, echelons, long downhills and the final climb was really steep and really long.
"I'm happy to be in pink."
How it unfolded
The stage was a short one, measuring only 91.5km from Castelnuovo della Daunia to San Marco la Catola, but the final was one of the hardest of the whole race. Starting 5.6km from the finish, the climb averaged 12.5 per cent for over three kilometres before a short downhill gave a bit of respite, followed by an irregularly climbing final kilometre.
After a short climb, the first part of the stage was largely downhill, leading to high speeds. Strong crosswinds split the peloton into three groups. White jersey Mikayla Harvey (Équipe Paule Ka) dropped out of the front group with a mechanical, but a strong chasing effort from her team brought her and the second group back to the front just before the second-category climb to Volturino started halfway through the stage.
On the climb, nine riders broke away from the peloton. Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott), Katia Ragusa (Astana Women’s Team), Amy Pieters (Boels Dolmans), Pauliena Rooijakkers (CCC-Liv), Jelena Eric (Movistar), Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb), Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo), and Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT) led by as much as 42 seconds. They were joined by Maria Novolodskaya (Cogeas Mettler Look) who bridged to the group only to then crash out of it on the descent and Ilaria Sanguineti (Valcar-Travel & Service), but the break was caught at the base of the final climb.
After the first kilometre of climbing, only nine riders were left at the front of the race: Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) set the pace for Longo Borghini, and they were followed by Niewiadoma, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Harvey, Van der Breggen, Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC-Liv), and Niamh Fisher-Black (Équipe Paule Ka).
Moolman-Pasio and Fisher-Black were the first who had to let go due to Deignan’s pace. Lippert was the next to be dropped, managed to close the gap again. Halfway up the climb, Van der Breggen attacked. Longo Borghini and Harvey jumped on her wheel, but after 300 metres, Harvey could not keep up anymore.
When the climb flattened out, Longo Borghini and Van der Breggen were 20 seconds ahead of Harvey and 48 seconds ahead of Niewiadoma and Uttrup Ludwig who had been joined by Katrine Aalerud (Movistar Team) and Rooijakkers.
After unsuccessfully trying to shake of Van der Breggen on a steep section just before the flamme rouge, Longo Borghini led all the way to the finish, outsprinting the Dutch champion to win the stage. Harvey finished in third place 31 seconds later. Katrine Aalerud (Movistar Team) finished fourth, 1:06 minutes behind, with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine), Niewiadoma and Rooijakkers a further 13 seconds down.
Going into the final stage, four laps on a mountainous 27.3km circuit around Motta Montecorvino, Van der Breggen leads the general classification 1:10 minutes ahead of Niewiadoma. Due to her stage win, Longo Borghini moves onto the podium, 2:23 minutes down, but Uttrup Ludwig is only two seconds behind.
Visit Cyclingnews' dedicated women's page for full reports, results, news, features and galleries from the 2020 Giro Rosa.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo Women|
|2||Anna Van der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|
|3||Mikayla Harvey (NZl) Equipe Paule Ka|
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Anna Van der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam|