We’re into day four of the Aviva Women’s Tour, and having told us yesterday that success at this race would be a ‘dream come true’, it’s great to see Wiggle High5’s Elisa Longo Borghini up in third place on the GC after she attacked a break of 14 with Lizzie Armitstead and Ashleigh Moolmon-Pasio at the end of stage three.
"I'm a bit autistic.. I like numbers in training. I have to do [my training] until the last km that is written. Otherwise I feel bad. It’s my religion, I need to, it’s my lifestyle, training is my job."
We caught up with Longo Borghini, the team’s climber and classics rider, today to find out more about her race so far, and get some training and climbing tips from someone who clearly knows how it’s done.
The race so far
Chatting about her success, Longo Borghini dwelled mostly on what others around her have done and provided, saying: “Yesterday was a great race in my opinion – a long and tough one – I think we put a good show on, well I hope so – we asked for some longer and tougher racing, and the organisers did [give us that], so I’m really thankful to them and I’m really thankful to the Aviva Women’s Tour for putting this race on, I think it’s one of the best organised races in the calendar."
Discussing her form ahead of the fourth day of racing she said: “For the moment I feel fine, but I’m still not pedalling… my legs will tell me how I feel in 50 minutes [at the start]. I’m hoping for a break, I think Rabo Liv will race aggressively because they lost the yellow jersey yesterday, and Moolman is a few seconds down. I will try to take advantage of them."
Looking ahead, she said: “We’ll see how today goes – I’m third now in the GC, I have a strong team around me, I hope at least to keep the third place because the girls worked really well and I would like to pay them back for all the good job they’ve done so far."
I couldn’t chat to an expert like Longo Borghini without asking for her climbing tips – we know that it’s something TWC readers are always looking for advice on. UK climbs such as those at the Women’s Tour are shorter than those you might find in the Alps or elsewhere in Europe, so I asked for advice on 1, 3-5 and 10 minute ascents.
The Italian told me: “Climbs that are an effort of one minute – you just go full [effort], you don’t even think about it. And it depends on the steepness, if it’s a really hard one you need to be aggressive."
As the distance goes up, so does the significance of pacing: “From 3 to 5 minutes it’s a bit more tough, it’s more about trying to keep the pace up and at the end maybe you can try to attack, or do an effort of 1 minute to 90 seconds [to finish off the climb hard]."
Moving into 10 minute territory, your body composition starts to make a bigger difference: “The longest ones – you just need to find your pace – and just go full [effort] for the last 3km or so. It depends which kind of rider you are too – if you are a light climber, you can dare to go a bit over your threshold. If you are a more powerful person like I am, I need to find my rhythm and go steady, then I can maybe dare to go a bit over my limit. But I need to go steady [most of all]."
I’ve interviewed Longo Borghini before, and I’ve always been struck by what a quiet, gentle person she is. As she told me about her approach to training, she told me a lot about herself – too: “If I have to do intervals in the hills, I’m somebody… I’m a bit autistic. If I have three times a climb, I will do three times that climb, at that speed. I like numbers in training. I always need everything set, and I don’t like to have people around me. I’m alone and I need to do my work, once I’ve done my work I can be friendly."
Athletes vary dramatically – some are all about the feelings in their legs, and others are about ticking off the requirements. One thing’s for sure, Longo Borghini doesn’t leave the office early: “I think for me when I have training, I have to do it until the last km that is written. Otherwise I feel bad. It’s my religion, I need to, it’s my lifestyle, training is my job. You don’t go to the office and do 7 and a half hours, you do the 8, so I don’t go out for 4 hours and do 3 and a half."
Or course, if it’s a choice between racing and training, racing comes first – and Longo Borghini’s goal race lies in Rio – she said: “I like racing so much. I want to go to the Olympics fit and in good shape, it’s always been my dream and this year and last two years, I’ve made that my goal."
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