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Giorgia Bronzini wins opening stage of Zhoushan Island Tour in breakaway sprint
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Giorgia Bronzini continued her winning ways as she took victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Zhoushan Island, outsprinting Trofeo Binda World Cup winner Elisa Longo Borghini in a two-up sprint. The two Italians had escaped a breakaway group with 15km of the hilly 81.3km course remaining, with climber Longo Borghini doing all she could to shake off sprinter Bronzini on the way to the finish.
Third place was taken by Chinese Taipei rider Huang Ting Ying, at the head of a seven-rider group a minute and 12 seconds behind Bronzini, with the main peloton coming home more than five minutes later.
"It was a hard race today, because it was a little bit hilly and on the climb Longo Borghini always tried to attack," explained Bronzini afterwards. "It was hard for me to follow her every time, but I tried to stay in her wheel because it was the only way to make it to the finish and beat her in the sprint.
"In the final it was me and her in the break in the last 15km," Bronzini added. "In the first kilometre of the break I didn't give her a hand because there were so many climbs, but after the climb I decided to work with her to try to take more minutes out of the others. At the finish, at one kilometre to go, she tried to attack me again through a little tunnel before the last corner, but I was in the wheel and took the corner in first position.
"She began her sprint, and I started my sprint, and I won easily," the former two-time World champion smiled.
The victory was Bronzini's fifth of the season, but could not be more different from the previous four, which all came in bunch sprints. A breakaway win over such a challenging course shows the Italian superstar's versatility.
"It was extremely hilly; up, down, up down, and no flat," confirmed Bronzini's Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate and team manager Rochelle Gilmore.
"The first 30 or 40km was extremely hard, for everyone except for Giorgia," she joked. "It was an aggressive race right from the start, the bunch didn't stay together at all, and it was really, really hilly.
"This is obviously a pretty special result," Gilmore added, "because everyon had to try and drop Giorgia, because she's proved that she's the fastest. Everyone tried to do everything they possibly could, and Elisa Longo Borghini's a pretty bloody good climber, and she tried everything."
Victory on the first stage gives Bronzini the leader's jersey in the three-day race, which she will look to defend over the remaining two stages.
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Hitec Products
3. Huang Tin Ying (Chinese Taipei)
08. August 141
– but the sailors praise the new boats