Elisa Balsamo wins Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 1 month ago

Elisa Balsamo, the Italian champion of Lidl Trek, won the 25th edition of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio, Italy.

It’s the second victory for the Italian former World Champion and also the fourth consecutive win for the Lidl Trek team after Shirin van Anrooij won the 2023 edition, Balsomo in 2022 and Elisa Longo Borghini in 2021. All riders are still racing together in the Lidl Trek team.

The race unfolded with a raid of breaks and attacks in the final lap, ending in a sprint among the top contenders. Elisa Balsamo outsprinted the current World Champion Lotte Kopecky from Team Sdworx- Protime in a reduced bunch sprint and raised her arms high in the air crossing the finishline.

“I am very happy with the success at the Trofeo Binda because it has a very long history and is considered a monument. The team was perfect. I fought to stay close to the best along the final climb, then the sprint went as I had hoped. So, I am delighted with my victory, as I had already won this race in the rainbow jersey.” Said an emotional Balsamo right after the finish.

Lotte Kopecky added Trofeo Alfredo Binda to her schedule on a last notice and finished second. It was the first time that the World Champion added the Italian race to her calendar. After a strong performance by her team she just fell short for the victory. “I am quite satisfied with this. Ofcourse you always want to win, but Elisa was just faster. So I can live with this perfectly. This was the first time I rode Trofeo Alfredo Binda. It’s completely different than a Flemish classic, but I like the race. There were a lot of altimeters in it. It was the ideal time to finish this race in function of what is still to come in the spring”, said Kopecky minutes after the race.

Pick Pieterse finished third in Italy, same as in the Ronde van Drenthe last week. The Dutch rider who already had a successful cyclocross season attacked on the final climb but the peloton knew she is not a rider to give enough space in an attack. She printed to third behind Balsamo and Kopecky.


How the race unfolded

The riders left Maccagno con Pino Vaddasca at noon local time for 140.5km racing towards the town of Cittiglio. After 4km of neutral the flag was dropped and they were allowed to attack.

The race began with a relatively relaxed pace as the peloton traversed the scenic route alongside Laggio Maggiore. Despite the picturesque surroundings, the tension was present in the peloton as they knew hard climbs in the 6 local laps were eminent of high pace attacks. Italian rider Giorgia Serena of BTC City Ljubljana Zhiraf Ambedo initiated the first break of the day, briefly gaining an advantage over the peloton before being reeled back in with still al lot of kilometers to go. The peloton remained compact as it approached the first climb of the day at Massciago.

As the peloton tackled the ascent towards the church of Orino, the intensity ramped up. Riders tested their legs on the climb, with Lidl Trek positioning themselves prominently as they aimed for a fourth consecutive victory at Trofeo Binda. Despite the challenging terrain, the peloton stayed together, indicating the high pace set by the contenders.

Then Canadian rider Clara Emond of EF Education Pro Cycling launched a daring solo attack, seizing the opportunity to break away from the peloton. With impressive strength and determination, Emond steadily increased her lead, gaining over a minute on the chasing pack. The peloton, led by Sdworx-Protime and with World Champion Lotte Kopecky among its ranks, initially seemed content to let Emond extend her advantage.

As Emond continued to extend her lead, the peloton began to react, realizing the threat posed by the EF Education rider. The pace increased as teams organized themselves to reel in Emond, who maintained a strong tempo despite the peloton’s efforts. However, the climb’s challenging nature caused splits within the peloton, creating a dynamic race situation.

Despite periodic attempts by the peloton to bridge the gap, Emond’s 50km lead remained substantial but only around a minute. With 60km to go, Emond was reeled back in and with the peloton all together the finale started.

Multiple riders tried to break from the bunch with Jade Wiel from FDJ-Suez as the first of many attacks. The French rider didn’t get a lot of seconds advantage and was moments later back in the belly of the bunch.

The riders were already on the local loop of over 15 kilometers, which included two sharp climbs: the Orino (2.5 kilometers at 5.3 percent) and the Casale (800 meters at 7.3 percent).

Last year, Shirin Van Anrooij of LidlTrek seized the opportunity on the final climb to launch her decisive attack. This time, it was Puck Pieterse of Fenix Deceuninck who chose the Casale in the penultimate lap for a solo move. She was chased by Mary Niamh Fisher of Team SD Worx-Protime to close the gap for World Champion Lotte Kopecky.

With a compact peloton of around forty women, the riders began the final lap. At the base of the Casale climb, Fisher-Black once again surged ahead.

Two Dutch riders immediately followed her wheel: Van Anrooij and Mareille Meijering of Team Movistar. Meijering, until last year a university lecturer in Utrecht and Groningen n the Netherlands, only made the transition to professional cycling last year.

Last week, she secured her first professional victories on behalf of Movistar with a stage win and the overall classification in the Vuelta Extremadura.

In the descent, the chasers caught up, but the group had significantly dwindled. At the foot of the final ascent of the Orino, the already active Yara Kastelijn of Fenix-DeCeuninck attempted a move, but she too was countered by Fisher-Black.

Ultimately, Elisa Balsamo emerged victorious in a thrilling sprint finish, securing her second Trofeo Binda win in a race characterized by strategic moves, relentless attacks, and a formidable solo breakaway by Clara Emond.

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