• Mara Abbott won the stage and took the overall leaders' jersey in the process (Velofocus)Source: Velofocus
United States’ Mara Abbott (Wiggle High5) gapped the peloton on the Mortirolo climb to win Stage 5 of the Giro Rosa.
Cycling Central

Wiggle-High 5
7 Jul 2016 - 9:58 AM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2016 - 8:13 AM

The two-time race winner opened a gap of almost five minutes over the pink jersey group. Despite a crash on the technical plateau before the descent, Abbott held on to enough time to take the race lead herself.  She now leads the race by 10 seconds over compatriot Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans). Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans), who wore the leaders' jersey at the start of the stage, slipped down to sixth overall after finishing the stage in ninth, two minutes and two seconds behind Abbott.

Having sat in the chasing group over the climb and descent, Wiggle High5’s Elisa Longo Borghini won the sprint for second place ahead of former World Champion Tatiana Guderzo (Hitec Products), 37 seconds later.

“It’s wonderful to be able to win and it’s wonderful to be able to pay back some of the trust that the girls have put in me so far,” said Abbott. “We’ve got four more days to get this done, so we’re not taking anything for granted yet.

“The goal is to finish in [the jersey], not just to wear it, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do!”

The 77.5km stage, between Grosio and Tirano was the shortest road stage of the race, but by far the toughest, with the Mortirolo at its halfway point. The top of the climb was followed by a rolling plateau and then a technical descent before a short, flat section to the slightly uphill finish.

“I pretty much went straight from the bottom and tried to take it as steady as I could for myself, to just go my pace and see where I could end up,” said Abbott. “A break was gone, but I went past them; so the break didn’t last very long.

“There was a plateau for a while, and then some rollers,” the two-time Giro winner continued. “And on the first descent of the rollers I actually crashed… pretty badly, which was not really part of the game plan. I hit a big hole - there were a lot of those to look out for - but I was able to get back up and keep going. My bike was kind of messed up but it worked.

“Then it was just a matter of getting my head back round to where I was and really trying to focus myself. After landing pretty hard I had to get myself down the rest of the descent.”

Abbott crossed the line alone, while the highly select group of chasers steadily reduced in number behind her. With Stevens dropped, there were only three riders left in the group as it arrived at the finish, where Borghini was able to outsprint Guderzo and Guarnier.

Her second place on the stage - a second of the race - lifts Borghini up to third overall, just 15 seconds behind Abbott, continuing to give the black and orange team a second card to play in the tough stages to come.

“It’s pretty amazing to have as strong a team as we have and to have support of the team,” said Abbott. “It’s a huge honour and I’m so happy to have Elisa with me on the climbs, always, but really the whole team has been riding out of their minds this week. So it’s really a privilege to be able to ride with everyone.”