Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Emma Johansson finished in third place at the end of the fourth stage of the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour, between the cities of Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent, despite having been part of a four-rider break that almost made it to the finish. The Swedish Champion was beaten by multiple World Champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) and Canadian Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur), who had been part of the much-reduced peloton that had chased her down.
Johansson had gone clear with Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling teammate Elisa Longo Borghini, World Champion and race leader Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) with 25km to go, but the quartet was caught with less than a kilometre remaining.
Although Vos took ten bonus seconds on the finish line, Longo Borghini remains in third place overall; still within striking distance of Armitstead’s lead.
“It was quite an aggressive race from the start, and we had to make sure we had one there every time, and not have a group go without one of us in it,” Johansson explained. “After the last intermediate sprint we had the first QOM; it wasn’t too much of a hill, it was more than a drag, but it still wasn’t hard enough to split it up, but Ashleigh Moolman tried to race it hard and tried to make a difference, especially over the line.
“It still kept on dragging, and the descent wasn’t too technical, so there was a long line coming into the next climb,” the Swedish Champion continued. “Coming into the QOM Elisa just went for it at the bottom, and she got Ashleigh and Lizzie with her. I was in the wheel of Marianne [Vos], and she was trying to hang on, but then she had to let go. I tried to jump across, and I called Elisa, so she sat up and waited and we had two cards to play in the break.
“We tried to put pressure on by attacking, but Lizzie has such a good jump that we couldn’t get away.
“In the end they literally caught us with 500 metres to go, and Marianne won the sprint.”
Despite having been clear of the peloton for so long, Johansson still had the power to sprint into third place, making the Swedish Champion the fourth Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling rider to finish on the podium of this year’s Aviva Women’s Tour.
“I’m a bit surprised I came third,” she laughed. “Because when they came past they were going so fast. I knew how the finish was going to be - that there was going to be a righthand corner at the bottom - but everyone took it quite wide. For some reason I just managed to get around the inside and the corner wasn’t as sharp as I thought. So I got around with enough speed and managed to hang around for third.
“I think it shows that we really have a strong team,” Johansson added. “We’ve had a different rider on the podium every day, and Elisa’s still up there for third in GC. Of course it would be nice to be on the top step, but there’s one more day and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
“I think it’s going to be another tough day!”
1. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)
2. Leah Kirchmann (Liv-Plantur)
3. Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
photos Janos Schmidt