After finishing just outside the podium in fourth place twice in a row, Elisa Longo Borghini made it clear that this year’s Tour of Flanders was her race, taking a solo win on the cobbled classic.
Borghini made a bold attack following the 1km long Kanarieberg climb – there was still 30km to go of the 145km race but she maintained the gap between herself and eight chasers to win with a 43 second margin.
The Italian knew to win against the sprinters she had to succeed in a solo attack. With 7km to go, she had a one minute lead, which narrowed by seconds as the finish approached, but by then it was far too late and the chasers rode for second.
Borghini said that team mate Giorgia Bronzini inspired her before the race, saying: “I was talking to Giorgia [the day before the race] … and she said ‘you know Elisa, you are a person who thinks too much, both outside cycling and especially in the races. So tomorrow just follow your instincts; just go when you feel like it.’ So I did, and I think Giorgia is right!”
The win was the first of the season for the 23-year-old and she said after the finish: “I actually have no words to describe how happy I am. I don’t know. I don’t think I realise yet that I won Flanders!”
The eight riders behind Broghini included World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot and her Rabo Liv Women team mate Anna Van Der Breggen, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolman), and Wiggle Honda team mate, Julian D’Hoore.
The frantic sprint saw D’Hoore take second place, making for a Wiggle Honda 1-2, to add to their list of success’ from this season’s Spring Classics. Behind her was van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv).
The second place, combined with a win at Ronde Van Drenthe, puts D’Hoore in first place in the UCI Road World Cup. She takes the leaders jersey from Armitstead, whose cleat snapped in the final stretch, leaving her in eighth place.
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