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For the second year running, Lisa Brennauer of Ceratizit WNT Pro Cycling claimed victory in the Ceratizit ‘Madrid’ Challenge stage 2 time trial. Brennauer clocked a blistering time of 12’40 over the short 9.3km course, to clinch a one-second victory ahead of the ever in form Elisa Longo Borgini from Trek Segafredo, an impressive ride in itself.
Just behind Longo Borgini in third place was fellow Trek Segafredo teammate Ellen Van Dijk, a further three seconds back. By winning the time trial, Brennauer moves into the GC lead over Longo Borgini by 10 seconds, heading into the finale tomorrow in downtown Madrid.
How it happened
After an impressive sprint finish in stage one’s chaotic finale, Lorena Wiebes of Team Sunweb headed into the stage 2 time trial in Boadilla del Monte with a slight time gap over the GC favourites. With just 10 seconds’ lead over Lisa Brennauer, the eventual winner of the day, Wiebes was always going to have a tough time holding on to the leader’s jersey going into the final downtown circuit race in Madrid. The course lends itself to powerful riders like Van Dijk and Brennauer, due to its flat nature and distance.
In the early stages of the day, former German National TT champion Mieke Kroger of Hitec Products set the benchmark time of 13’01, 10 seconds ahead of her teammate Vita Heine. In the previous edition, Brennauer had won the race on the same course in a time of 12’50, a good benchmark to keep in mind for the riders.
As the race favourites started to leave the starting gates, the weather began to turn, with rain showers rolling in. After almost an hour in the hot seat, Kroegers time was bested by Canadian time trial champion Leah Kirchman by 7 seconds in a time of 12’54.
Within minutes of taking the hotseat, Kirchman was dethroned by the dual national champion Elisa Longo Borgini, with an incredible time of 12’41. Annemiek Van Vleuten would be the next contender to arrive through the finish line, surprisingly falling short of fastest time by 8 seconds, placing Annemiek provisionally in second place.
The final two-time trial contenders for the day would be former teammates and rivals Ellen Van Dijk and Lisa Brennauer. Van Dijk had been targeting this time trial, and coming off great form from the late spring classics, most thought the battle lay between these two riders, both former World time trial champions. As it would be, Van Dijk would just miss her teammate’s benchmark time by a mere 3 seconds. With just a few riders remaining on course, it would all come down to how Lisa Brennauer would perform.
In order to take the overall lead, Brennauer would need to ride a time within 8 seconds of Elisa’s to secure the GC. Whilst current race leader Wiebes who need to be within 18 seconds of Elisa’s time, a big ask for the sprinter. Brennauer crossed the line just one second ahead of Elisa Longo Borgini to set the new fastest time of the day with just Balsamo and Wiebes left on course.
Within minutes, Wiebes crossed the line 28 seconds down on Brennauer. In winning the stage, Brennauer goes into the final stage with a comfortable lead over the Trek Segafredo duo of Elisa Longo Borgini in 2nd, and Ellen Van Dijk in 3rd.
The final stage of the Ceratitz Challenge will be run in conjunction with the final day of the men’s Vuelta a Espana in downtown Madrid. The course resembles the first editions of La Course in Paris, and will be yet another day for the sprinters. With time bonuses offered for 1st, 2nd and 3rd on each intermediate sprint lap as well as time bonuses at the finish, Trek Segafredo are likely to be the aggressors tomorrow.
Wiebes is currently 18 seconds done on Brennauer, and will most likely be focusing the team’s energy on the stage victory, rather than chasing points for the overall. And always in the mix will be Lisa Brennauer, who has the strength to go for the intermediate points, as well as finish it off in the finale. Letizia Paternoster will be another rider to watch in the finale tomorrow. In stage one the young Italian sprinter got caught up in the chaos of the finish, and didn’t have the opportunity to contest the win.
Whilst the first two stages of the Ceratitz challenge were not live streamed, you will be able to catch all the action tomorrow on NBC Sports Gold in the United States, FloBikes in Canada, and Eurosport/GCN in Europe.