Mara Abbott (Wiggle High5) has won the Giro twice before – wearing the Pink Jersey at the final presentation in both 2010 and 2013. Donning the Pink jersey today she becomes a clear threat to those hoping to steal it from her shoulders in the final four days of racing.
Abbott takes her spot on the GC podium, 10 seconds ahead of new second place rider Megan Guarnier having finished the stage 37 seconds clear of the peloton, despite crashing on a technical section towards the end.
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The American who turned pro in 2007 took a break from cycling after the 2011 season, when anorexia took hold of her life. She explained in recent interviews that much of the impetus behind her condition came from a perceived lack of control over her career and lifestyle.
However, on the 77km route to Tirano today she showed that she’s well and truly in control – attacking on the highly anticipated catergorised climb – the Mortirolo. She completed the ascent over two minutes up on chaser Emma Pooley (Lotto-Soudal).
Behind the two solo breakaway riders, Elisa Longo Borghini rode with the splintering peloton, alongside leader at the start of the day Evelyn Stevens, and her Boels-Dolmans team mate Megan Guarnier, plus Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv, joining Boels-Dolmans next year!), Claudia Lichtenberg (Lotto-Soudal), Tatiana Guderzo (Team Hitec) and Ksenyia Tuhai (BePink).
Following the climb, the route flattened out, before a long descent. On the flat section, the chasing group of favourites grew, with the additions of Doris Schweizer (Cylance Pro Cycling) and Yevgenia Vysotska (Hagens Berman-Supermint) who managed to catch Pooley.
Abbott, however, was too far ahead for even this star studded line up to succeed. At the finish line, she was still 37 seconds up, and the day was made even more successful for Wiggle High5 as Longo Borghini came in second. In third was Tatiana Guderzo (Team Hitec), ahead of Guarnier and van der Breggen.
Following the race, Abbott confirmed that she's hoping to keep hold of the lead - saying: “We’ve still got four stages more to go. The goal is to finish in it [the Pink jersey], not just to wear it, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do!"
Discussing the course and her performance, she said: “There was a plateau for a while, and then some rollers. And on the first descent of the rollers I actually crashed… pretty badly, which was not really part of the game plan. I hit a big hole - there were a lot of those to look out for - but I was able to get back up and keep going. My bike was kind of messed up, but it worked. Then it was just a matter of getting my head back round to where I was, and really trying to focus myself, after landing pretty hard I had to get myself down the rest of the descent."
Discussing her attack on the climb, she said: “I pretty much went straight from the bottom and tried to take it as steady as I could for myself, to just go my pace and see where I could end up. A break was gone, but I went past them; so the break didn’t last very long.
Abbott takes over the GC, with four days to go. It's the third stage win of five, plus a prologue, for Wiggle High5 - with Giorgia Bronzini and Chloe Hosking having claimed two bunch sprints already.
The General Classification now stands at:
- Mara Abbott (USA) Wiggle High5
- Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam (+10 seconds)
- Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5 (+15 seconds)
Guarnier retains the Points leader jersey, whilst Longo Borghini wears the QOM and Best Italian jersey. The Best Young Rider is Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo Liv).