American road champion Megan Guarnier added a win to the Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team’s tally, the 12th for the Dutch-registered squad during the still young 2016 road season, at Durango – Durango Emakumeen Saria on Tuesday. The 113-kilometre hilly road race came down to a two-up sprint between Guarnier and 2015 Tour of Flanders winner Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5). Guarnier took an emphatic win 45-seconds before Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) led home the chasers.
“Elisa and I worked well together, and I ended up on the front for the final kilometre,” Guarnier said. “It is a somewhat technical finish, and I jumped after the last round-about.”
“I’m glad that the teamwork today resulted in another victory for the team,” said Guarnier, who started the race as one of the team’s two protected riders. “I’m happy to take my first win of the season.”
Durango may be the hilliest one day race on the women’s calendar at the moment, and Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team lined up with dual leaders in Guarnier and Evie Stevens. The race, which serves as an appetiser for Euskal Emakumeen XXIX Bira, the five day Basque race that follows, is traditionally contested by a very small group or a lone rider.
Tuesday’s race consisted of five large laps followed by two smaller laps. Both laps are hilly, with the smaller laps serving up the most challenging climbs.
“The final climb was particularly steep,” noted Guarnier. “We knew that suited me, Evie and Karol-Ann [Canuel].”
“The race was very active,” Guarnier added. “Karol-Ann, Kasia [Pawlowska] and Demi [de Jong] worked very hard in the beginning to make sure we were represented.”
The peloton split on the first of the two smaller laps, and Longo Borghini attacked on a descent.
“I followed and [Audrey] Cordon followed me,” Guarnier explained. “Cordon dropped on the next climb.”
The duo built up a maximum advantage of 57-seconds on the run-in to the finish before Guarnier out-sprinted Longo Borgini for top honours.
Euskal Emakumeen Bira begins with a prologue on Wednesday. Four hilly road stages follow. Guarnier will start as a pre-race favourite.
“We have a very strong team here,” noted Guarnier. “We’ll take each stage of Bira one-by-one. I have no doubt that the team will be competitive throughout the week.”