Elisa Longo Borghini celebrates overall victory at the 2022 Women’s Tour, flanked by second-place Grace Brown and Kasia Niewiadoma in third. "Chapeau to her for an amazing sprint finish," says Grace Brown after ceding overall lead to Trek-Segafredo rider.
The run-in to the finish on the sixth and final stage of The Women’s Tour was fast and chaotic, but FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope looked especially muddled on the roads into Oxford town centre.
The team started the day on the front foot. Grace Brown and Elisa Longo Borghini were tied on time after the penultimate stage, but Brown was wearing the leader’s jersey by a technicality on stage placings, which made bonus seconds the name of the game. The French team executed a perfect lead-out at the first intermediate sprint at Carterton, earning Brown three bonus seconds, while Longo Borghini completely missed out.
It was there that the team lost the race. They grew complacent as a late breakaway swept up the second lot of bonus seconds and presumed that Brown’s fresh three-second margin would be enough of a buffer coming to the finish line in the face of Longo Borghini’s supposed hapless sprinting.
But Longo Borghini and her team had been playing the long(o) game. While FDJ seemed to have forgotten about their GC leader in the approach to the sprint — Brown was left isolated in the closing stages of the race — more concerned with bagging a stage win for Clara Copponi, Trek-Segafredo was forming a lead-out train for Longo Borghini.