Johansson handily took the win on wet roads of a technical course in Orduña. She came home with a time of 18’55 over 13.4 kilometres. The Swedish Time Trial National Champion was 38” faster than both Ellen Van Dijk (Specialized lululemon) in second and Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products UCK) in third.
“I was surprised that I won,” admitted Johansson. “Obviously, I’m feeling good. Sometimes it’s strange but when you feel good, you can still feel slow. I was suffering the whole time. I guess that’s why I went so fast – because I suffered so much.”
“I was confident in Emma’s ability, but I was pleasantly surprised at the time gaps,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “Technically, her ride was brilliant. It had been raining to varying degrees all day, and it was a slight drizzle on and off during Emma’s ride. She rode as if it was dry and told me after her race that she hadn’t taken any risks. I’d like to see what she looks like when she is taking risks!”
At the intermediate check-point, Johansson had a 10” advantage over Longo Borghini. She gained an additional 28” over the Italian in the second half of the time trial.
“This wasn’t a typical time trial course,” said Johansson. “It was constantly up and down with lots of corners and some roundabouts. We did two big hills and one small one. It was quite hard, but it suited me.”
Before her winning ride, Johansson drove the course with McPartland. Following the drive, she rode the course once, specifically concentrating on her line through the various corners.
“I was really focused today,” Johansson said. “I’m always focused when I’m racing, but I was extra focused today. The course and the conditions were to my advantage, so I was really excited to dig deep. I had fun today. Well, it wasn’t fun while I was racing – that hurt! – but it was fun when I was done.”
Tied on time with Longo Borghini after stage two, Johansson heads into the final day of racing with a clear lead. She has 38” on Longo Borghini in second overall, 1’51 on Marianne Vos (Rabobank – Liv Giant) and 2’14 on Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) in fourth. Tiffany Cromwell rounds out the top five at 2’25.
Johansson has twice finished second in the Basque stage race. This is her first time in Emakumeen Euskal Bira race leader’s jersey. She’s eager to defend the jersey tomorrow and is confident that her team can support her in the short, hilly day of racing.
“We’re going to have to suffer tomorrow,” she said. “It’s exciting. I’m really enjoying myself racing here. I love this area. It’s a beautiful place. The weather has been crappy, but I don’t have a problem with rain. We hope to see some sunshine tomorrow, but I’m confident we can have a good day in any conditions.”
“It’s certainly not over yet,” added McPartland. “Tomorrow is an important day. A couple of the girls took it easy today to save energy, and Tiff, in fifth, is an important asset for us. We’ll do everything we can to take this thing home.”