Johansson narrow second in dramatic end to stage one of Euskal Emakumeen Bira

Thu 11 Jun 2015

Winner of Tuesday’s Durango one-day race, Emma Johansson has finished second in a dramatic finale that saw race leaders take a wrong turn inside the last ten kilometres on stage one of the Euskal Emakumeen Bira.

Johansson was part of a leading quartet who had one-minute 20seconds advantage on the bunch when they were taken on a wrong turn that suddenly saw the peloton back at the head of racing.

Thanks to the intervention of commissaires, the race was neutralised and the leaders reinstated with their advantage to contest the victory.

“The lead car took a wrong turn and took them in the wrong way which caused a bit of a mess,” sport director Gene Bates explained. “They stopped the race and gave the girls the time gap they had so it was a little bit strange but the commissaires did a good job in the heat of the moment.”

“Emma has been doing this for a long time, it really didn’t rattle her too much. She knew she still had to outsprint the other three and just got on with the job of doing it.”

Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) eventually stole honours, whilst Johansson’s performance for second moves the 31-year-old into third overall, two seconds behind new race leader Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabobank-Liv Women Cycling Team).

“We went into the sprint quite confident,” Bates said. “Emma would probably have been the fastest of paper but Guarnier just surprised her and went early to get a bit of a gap.”

“Emma came late and fast at her but couldn’t quite roll her in the finish. There are two photos, one just before the finish line where she was a couple of centimetres behind and one just after and she was a couple of centimetres in front.”

The first road stage got off to a very settled start, proceedings remaining together until the peloton hit the major climb of the day after 60km of racing.

The sole opportunity to break the 96.8km stage apart was taken as Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabobank-Liv Women Cycling Team) and Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla Pro Cycling Team) crested the peak ahead of Johansson who was leading a small chase.

“The stage started with 50km of flat roads between mountains and predominantly big head wind sections so that really made the bunch completely negative,” Bates said.

“We knew the climb was going to be the making or breaking of the stage and that’s exactly what happened. As soon as they hit the bottom of the climb the bunch exploded.”

Johansson and Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) caught the leading duo along the top of the climb. Two additional riders briefly joined the head of the race but lost touch again on the descent, leaving the four remaining women to battle it out for victory after the initial direction scare.