Second behind Vos is an incredible comeback for Emilia Fahlin

After three years of setbacks coming second to the best in the world is quite the comeback.

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It’s been a rollercoaster couple of years for Emilia Fahlin, but after multiple injuries and setbacks, the Swedish rider on FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope nearly found herself tantalizingly close to raising her arms in victory on Swedish roads. She was narrowly outsprinted to the line by Marianne Vos, who wears the leader’s jersey at the Tour of Scandinavia. Yet second place after a very frustrating couple of years was still a validating result for the veteran rider.

“It’s been a tough spring, trying to come back to fitness from having a hard last part of the last year,” Fahlin said prior to the race start on Monday. “I’ve been racing myself into fitness now and had a really good block of training.”

“It’s coming now, my form is on the way up. This part of the year is always my favourite, coming into August and all the nice races in Scandinavia and coming close to Worlds. I usually like this part of the year.”

After signing for the French WorldTour team for the 2019 season, things looked to be going quite well for Fahlin, who first joined the professional peloton with T-Mobile in 2007 and has ridden for top teams like Wiggle High5, Team HTC-Highroad, and Specialized-Lululemon. With so many years of experience, it comes as no surprise that Fahlin has racked up a long list of notable results including second overall at the Ladies Tour of Norway in 2018, multiple Swedish national championships, and a win at Crescent Vårgårda in 2016. That experience was exactly what FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope needed at the time.

Her first two seasons with her new team did not go as planned. A training crash in May of her first season on the team resulted in a subdural hematoma and concussion that kept her out of racing until September. The following season started better, with fourth at Omloop van her Hageland but then, of course, COVID-19 hit and the rest of the season was postponed. Early into the re-scheduled racing season, Fahlin crashed due to a feed zone accident at the Giro Rosa. She finished stage 4 but x-rays determined she would not be able to start the following stage.

Fahlin was able to come back and take second at the Swedish National Championship road race later that spring but lingering concussion symptoms impacted most of her 2021 season. Prior to Wednesday, it had been four years since the former Swedish national champion stood on the podium of a WorldTour event.

Stage 2 of the Tour of Scandinavia the only of the six stages to take place in Sweden. Stage 1 started in Denmark and after a stop in Sweden, the rest of the race will take place in Norway. Fahlin has been targeting the race since it was announced in 2019, prior to the setbacks.

“It was hard to think that this tour would come and I would not be part of it,” she said on Monday. “So I’m glad this day has come and the race is on and I’m standing here still racing.”

After finishing ninth at the Postnord Vårgårda WestSweden one-day race on Sunday, Fahlin turned her attention to the only day of WorldTour racing left in her home country. Luckily she had the chance to test the legs the day before where Vos also won.

“I wanted to change something from my sprint yesterday [where she came 9th],” Fahlin said after the stage. “So, I decided to start early. Marianne passed me so close. That hurt but I’m finally happy to get the podium. With the home crowd here it was a good feeling ”

With two stage wins at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift and two stage wins at the Giro Donne in the last month it’s fair to say Vos is on top form. She will be hard to beat for the rest of the Tour of Scandinavia, where three of the final four stages look like they will favor the sprinters. Fahlin came second to one of the best riders in the world right now, and that is something to write home about.

To make matters even sweeter, Fahlin got to stand on the podium in the “Best Swedish Rider” jersey and give (what looked like) a very entertaining interview in Swedish.

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