A third place stage finish delivered Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek Segafredo) the four bonus seconds she needed to secure her first Women’s Tour by a single second. No-one could match the acceleration of Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) at the finish, as the Dutchwoman won for the third time this week.
But it was the tactical superiority and leg speed of the Italian that made the difference in the battle for the overall title.
Borghini took to the front ahead of the twisting run-in, stringing out the peloton, forcing gaps and isolating the yellow jersey. Even if she was not the fastest flat-out, it meant she was far enough up that she could afford to lose a few places and still emerge as the champion. In what she may later view as a tactical blunder, Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine), came through for second place. Another impressive individual result will surely be overshadowed on the team bus by the failure to keep team-mate Brown at the front of the race.
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As they began the final stage, taking the scenic route from Chipping Norton to Oxford, just two seconds separated the top three riders. Elisa Longo Borghini and Grace Brown were tied on time for first place, with Brown in the yellow leader’s jersey by virtue of her superior stage finishes across the week.
Such small differences meant bonuses were always bound to be decisive. The first three waypoints coming early in the stage ensured the general classification teams maintained a tight grip on proceedings.
The first categorised climb went to Australian Georgia Williams (BikeExchange - Jayco).
Kasia Niewiadoma looked to use the second as a springboard for an escape. Although she didn’t inspire any interest from others, four points meant the Polish rider moved into second spot in the Queen of the Mountains competition.
Come the first intermediate sprint, 50km into the stage at Carterton, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine was the team most alive to the potential of the seconds on offer. A big score could help them shut out the race.
While Trek-Segafredo sought to drive it home from the front for Longo-Borghini, the French team of the yellow jersey were more patient. Brown played it perfectly, allowing her team-mates to make space for her on the right hand side of the road, before creeping up on their shoulders to steal the seconds on the line. That put her three clear seconds over Elisa Longo-Borghini. The Italian’s team-mate Audrey Cordon-Ragot helped keep her in equal second spot, by denying Niewiadoma an additional bonus.

Highlights of Stage 6 of Women’s Tour, as Wiebes takes stage and Longo-Borghini clams overall win

Inside 50km an attack from Ane Iversen (Coop - Hitec Products) was countered by Alessia Patuelli (UAE Team ADQ) and Mieke Kroger (Human Powered Health) to form a three rider break. In what may be seen as a second catastrophic mistake, FDJ Novelle Aquitaine were happy to let them go and soak up the remaining bonus seconds before the finish.
Through fifteen kilometres to go, and a moment of potential alarm for Grace Brown, as she raised her hand to signal mechanical difficulties. A return to the FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine team car in the company before being brought back up to the front by Emilia Fahlin all was well.
Into the final 10km, Team DSM drove the peloton on to reduce the breakaway’s lead to irrelevance and begin the setup for a sprint finish in Oxford.
Trek-Segafredo and BikeExchange Jayco led the left and right hand sides of the road respectively, keeping their GC leaders safe, while Grace Brown was left with few team-mates at her disposal. The Australian had more of the work to do herself than she might have liked through the technical final kilometre.
On the fast, twisty run-in Longo Borghini took over from her team-mates and charged to the front, as the slight incline played to her strengths. The 30 year-old gave it everything as Grace Brown slipped more than a dozen places back.
When Lorena Wiebes launched her sprint there was no staying with her, though Longo Borghini almost managed to pip Copponi into second.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon Sram) finished in third overall, as well as second in the mountains competition, which was won by team-mate Elise Chabbey. Canyon Sram took the title of best overall team.
Lorena Wiebes also won the sprints prize, awarded to the rider with the most consistent finishes across the stages.
Race organisers awarded an additional title to Copponi as the rider who had “gone above and beyond to engage with the world’s media”
This was created in tribute to journalist Richard Moore, who passed away in March.
FINAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek Segafredo) 19:19:07s
2. Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine) +0:01s
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon Sram) +0:05s
4. Alexandra Manley (BikeExchange Jayco) +0:24s
5. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Team SD Worx) +0:32s
6. Elise Chabbey (Canyon-Sram) +0:49s
7. Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange Jayco) +0:54s
8. Veronica Ewers (EF Education - Tibco - SVB) +1:45s
9. Sofia Bertizzolo (UAE Team ADQ) +1:50s
10. Ingvild Gaskjenn (Team Coop - Hitec Products) +1:58s
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