Three Times Third for Emma Johansson at Emakueen Euskal BiraSun 15 Jun 2014
In dominating fashion, Rabobank-Liv closed out Emakueen Euskal Bira in the same way they began the Basque tour – with a stage win and the race leader’s jersery. Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv) soloed to victory on the hardest stage of the four day race five seconds ahead of her teammates Anna Van Der Breggen, Pauline Ferrand Prevot and ORICA-AIS’s Emma Johansson. In a three-up sprint to the line for second, Johansson crossed the line behind van der Breggen, slotting into third place. It was Johansson’s third consecutive podium finish.
The yellow race leader’s jersey changed backs twice throughout the race but never left Rabobank-Liv. Ferrand Prevot wore the jersey following stage one. Vos took it with a stage win on day two. Ferrand Prevot won stage three to take back the jersey heading into the final day of the race. Although Vos soloed to victory on Sunday, her advantage was not enough to assume the overall race lead from her teammate.
The final day of racing was action-packed from the start with the main break taking shape after the first sprint. In a group of 18 riders, Valentina Scandolara represented ORICA-AIS. As the break reached the bottom of the first descent, the toll of the climb had whittled the front group down to just six riders. Further back in the main bunch, the heat and effort of the climb had also significantly reduced the numbers.
The leading group of six went up and over the second category two climb of the day together. Leading into the third climb of the day, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans) attacked her breakaway companions and went solo over the climb. At the bottom of the descent, Armitstead sat up to allow the five chasers to regroup with her.
Behind the front group of six, the main bunch had been pared down to an elite group of 13, with all the main favourites including Johansson. Ten kilometres from the finish, the front two groups merged just before hitting the final climb of the day.
Rabobank-Liv rode hard up the climb to further split the bunch to pieces. Vos went over the climb first as Van Der Breggen and Ferrand Prevot chased. Johansson rode the descent fast and furious to catch the two chasers at the bottom. From there it was cat and mouse to the finish.
Comments from Sport Director Gene Bates
Valentina had the ride of the day as she rode brilliantly in the break. She did everything right. It’s the best we’ve seen Valentina all season. It’s very pleasing to see her continual improvements. She is coming into the summer season with great form. It’s perfect for her ahead of the Italian national championships and the Giro Rosa.
If we move the stage one result aside, we got the best results we could these last four days. Emma rounded out the podium on three stages and we put two in the top ten overall, with Emma in eighth place and Shara Gillow in tenth place.
Rabobank are really dominating right now. Going into the next race, we have to think hard how we are going to beat that team. They have several riders who are going well, which offers them plenty of options.