Elisa Balsamo: “Stronger than ever”

April 13 th 2022 - 11:15

Last autumn’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift was an epic first for the world of cycling and especially for Elisa Balsamo, who inaugurated her rainbow jersey on this very special occasion. With challenging weather conditions, the iconic colours were quickly stained by the mud that made the World Champion slip and crash on the cobbles but she was determined to make it to the velodrome.

Only a few months later, the young Italian star returns to the Hell of the North with more experience and confidence. She’s now part of Trek-Segafredo, the team that won the first edition with Lizzie Deignan, and she’s racking up successes at a higher rate than ever in her young and successful career.

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The first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift was also your first race with the rainbow jersey. What are your memories?
It was a special day! A really hard and crazy one. I was exhausted at the end of the race but I really wanted to go all the way to the end, especially since it was my first time with the rainbow jersey. I crashed but I made it. So I was very happy to arrive in the velodrome. I think it took me a week to recover afterwards! My hands were so painful… It was a hard one, but an epic one. And I hope we’ll have a dry one this time!  

How do you approach this second edition?
I’m delighted, naturally, because I get to do Roubaix two times in a year with my rainbow jersey! I’m also a bit scared. I really hope for a sunny day! We’ve prepared specifically for this race and we’ll have new bikes especially for Roubaix. So I think it will still be hard but hopefully less painful.  

Can you take your fifth win of the season in the velodrome of Roubaix?
I honestly don’t know. I think I need some more years to improve on such a race… Of course, I’m coming to do my best and I will also support the great team that we’re bringing. Lizzie [Deignan] was super strong and had an amazing race last year. I think some other girls can do a long solo attack on the cobbles, so we have to be ready from the first kilometre until the last kilometre.

 “I couldn’t expect that”

It’s been a busy season for you already, how do you feel?
I’ve done a lot of races already! But I feel good. I’m a bit tired, I felt it after Flanders, but I really want to race again.  

Did you expect to be so successful this spring?
I couldn’t expect that. I worked harder this winter, because I knew my big goals were during the classics, but I never imagined to win Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Classic Brugge-De Panne and my dream race Gent-Wevelgem. I’m really happy. I think it comes down to many things that make me feel stronger than ever.  

What kind of progress have you made?
I’ve improved in several areas. I took a big step up in my physical performances, I train better, and I also work on my mind. Now, I have a mental coach to help me focus. I also feel very good with the new team and the material.

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