Childhood friends dominate Stage 3 of UAE Tour Women

One-two finish for Borghini and Realini as UAE Team rider Silvia Persico stays in contention

By Team KT

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Elisa Longo Borghini celebrates after winning the third stage. — Supplied photo
Elisa Longo Borghini celebrates after winning the third stage. — Supplied photo

Published: Sat 11 Feb 2023, 10:26 PM

Team spirit came to the fore as Olympic bronze medalist Elisa Longo Borghini won Stage 3 of the UAE Tour Women, but not before a strategic call was taken by the Trek-Segafredo team management before the finish at Jebel Hafeet.

Borghini found a great ally in tiny Gaia Realini who helped her dominate the 107 km ride which began at Al Ain Club’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

Friends since they were teens, Borghini and Realini appeared to enjoy themselves as they rode solo up the UAE’s spectacular Jebel Hafeet, one of the highest mountains in the country.

With 5km left to race the duo pulled away and it looked like any one of them could win, but it was Borghini who was given the go-ahead by her team management to cross the finish line first.

With just three seconds separating them in the General Classification, and crucial bonus seconds on the line, the team bosses took the calculated call.

After the finish Borghini praised her friend and teammate saying: “Gaia is such a young talent and I really want to have her on my side in the next years, to see her grow as a rider and a person.

“She’s a very strong climber and I’m looking forward to seeing her climbing up the world rankings.”

Realini, just 21, was enjoying the moment which she described as ‘incredible.’

“For me, this is the first race in the big team, this team, and for me to arrive in the second position… ‘Whoa’. It’s a good day, it seems impossible to me.

“For me, my goal in the future is to help Elisa in other races, on the climbs,” she said, “and Elisa will help me on the climbs as well.”

UAE Team ADQ's Silvia Persico fought back after being left behind by the Trek-Segafredo duo to finish third.

Borghini heads into Sunday's finale in Abu Dhabi as the leader ahead of Realini and Persico. The 119km ride starts at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy in Abu Dhabi and finishes at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater where the winners will be crowned.

Longo Borghini is seven seconds ahead of Realini with Silvia Persico, who finished 1 min 11 sec behind that pairing on the stage, in third overall.

Stage 2 winner Lorena Wiebes (Team SD Worx), meanwhile, retained the Green Jersey on Points Classification.



Hazza bin Zayed Stadium to Jebel Hafeet(107km)

1 - Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), 107km in 2h48’24”, average speed 38.123km/h

2 - Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) s.t.

3 - Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) 1'11"


Red Jersey, General Classification: Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)

Green Jersey, Points Classification: Lorena Wiebes (Team SD Worx)

White Jersey, Young Rider Classification: Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo)

Black Jersey, Intermediate Sprint Classification: Agnieszka Skalniak-Sojka (Canyon//Sram Racing)

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