Emma Johansson Sprints to Third in Durango

Tue 10 Jun 2014

Emma Johansson sprinted to third in Durango, scoring her 13th podium of the season in the one day Basque race. Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv) outkicked Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) in the three-up sprint.

“Emma the ever-consistent came away with another podium today,” said Sport Director Gene Bates. “She’s had a steady string of solid results. Emma wasn’t lucky enough to get the win, but we like what we saw from the team today.”

The peloton enjoyed a mild start to the three hour day in the saddle. Anna Ramirez, riding for the local Bizkaia-Durango squad, jumped out of the bunch in the opening hour of the race. Twenty kilometres from the start, the lone leader had a 30” advantage over the bunch.

“The gap never went past the one minute mark,” said Bates. “It was clear that most teams were happy to leave her out there until the harder climbs at the end.”

“We started the race with only five riders,” Bates added. “A few teams, including Rabobank, started with as many as eight. We weren’t going in with a negative plan, but we definitely wanted to wait to see how other teams approached the race. We expected things to be a bit more aggressive, but it didn’t work out that way. Rabobank was happy to wait until the final climb to see who was strongest.” 

The peloton caught Ramirez shortly before the Cotê Montekalbo. A series of counter-attacks followed, with an acceleration by Alena Amialiusik (Astana BePink) inspiring an elite selection. Eighteen riders hade made the front group. Johansson and Shara Gillow flew the flag for ORICA-AIS.

“The group went over the top together,” Bates explained. “There were a few attacks that both Emma and Shara covered, but it was basically all together before the last climb that leads to the descent to the line.”

“That front group split up the final ascent,” Bates added. “Shara came out the back with six or seven others. Over the top, it was Vos and Armistead with Emma and Anna van der Breggen (Rabobank-Liv) just behind.”

Johansson managed to rid herself of van der Breggen on the descent. Just before the flat run-in to the finish, the Swede made contact with the two leaders. The trio traded turns all the way to the line to discourage other riders from joining them before the sprint.

“Van der Breggen and Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) came in 20” or 30” behind the front three, and Shara’s group was only 10” further back,” Bates noted. “Shara rode well today. We were happy to see her make the original split. She’s climbing very well at the moment.”

The one day race on Tuesday serves as prelude to the four day Basque tour that begins on Thursday. Johansson lines up as defending champion and hopes to repeat the feat.

“We’re in a good position heading into the tour,” said Bates. “We all came out unscathed. We got away with a good result, and we didn’t blow anyone to pieces to achieve it.”

“I expect to see more of the other girls in the next race,” Bates added. “There are other ways to use our riders without coming out of the major climb in the front group. We have two really good climbers here, and we’ll use the other three girls in a multitude of different ways to support our objectives.”