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Giorgia Bronzini wins Route de France stage one in a reduced-bunch sprint
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's Giorgia Bronzini capped a fantastic weekend for the black and orange team with a sprint victory in the first stage of the Route de France, between Soissons and Enghien-les-Bains, just to the north of Paris. The former two-time World champion was the class of the field as the peloton broke up on an unclassified climb on the stage's 3.5km finishing circuit, and beat Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana) and race leader Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) into second and third.
"It was simple race with not many attacks until we got to the little final circuit," Bronzini explained. "In the circuit there was a little climb of around two and a half K, and some of the sprinters dropped off. The first time around there were only twenty riders, but more riders got back on.
"In the final we tried to have a break with Linda Villumsen, to try to win with her for the jersey, but Johansson was there and she was able to defend," the Italian added. "So in the last lap I asked the girls to work for my sprint and they looked after me. The last one to put me into the sprint was Lauren Kitchen, who did a really good job in the last K, so in the last corner I was in third position.
"Then I opened my sprint in the last 150 metres, and I won by a bike length."
Just 37 riders from the 87-strong peloton were left to contest the finish, with Bronzini, Villumsen, Kitchen and Charlotte Becker all present for Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling.
"I think maybe Johansson was a little bit tired because she only had one teammate with her in the final so she had to work hard to catch so many breaks," said Bronzini. "That was good for me because I was more fresh than her.
With no time bonuses on the stage, Villumsen remains in second place overall, just one second behind Johansson, but will look for chances to attack the former Swedish champion in the next stages.
"We will work to try to get Linda the jersey in the coming days," Bronzini said. "But if that is impossible I will do my sprint.
"I said to Rochelle [Gilmore, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling's team manager] that it was my goal to get ten victories this year, maybe I can have more!" the former World champion laughed.
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
2. Valentina Scandolara (MCipollini-Giordana)
3. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS)