Balsamo Notches Up Another Win

After a winning weekend at Trofeo Binda, Elisa Balsamo added another mark to her WorldTour win tally at the Classic Brugge – De Panne, with another unmatched sprint. The usually-feared crosswinds of De Moeren were non-existent this year, which meant the peloton stayed relatively intact throughout the 155km race and a bunch sprint seemed inevitable. That did not dull the ambitions of several attackers looking to flip the script, but a combination of Lidl-Trek and Team dsm-firmenich PostNL meant that it was a complete peloton heading into the final 10km.

Lidl-Trek made full use of their five riders with first Eleanor Backstedt riding hard at the head of the group to keep her teammates well-positioned and out of trouble. When she peeled off, Lucinda Brand took over to pull back some late attacks. Finally, Lauretta Hanson lead the team into the final kilometre, to deliver Clara Copponi and Elisa Balsamo safely through the final corner. Clara took over, doing the final bit of work to place Elisa on the back wheel of her strongest rival, Charlotte Kool (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL), From there, it was all down to the Italian, who unleashed a furious sprint to win by several bike lengths, savouring the moment with her hands aloft.

Speaking at the finish, Elisa Balsamo said, “I am just very happy. I am feeling good and for me, this is the most important thing because after what happened last year, it really wasn’t easy to come back but I feel like the Team really trusts me and so I am really happy to win for them. My teammates did an amazing lead-out for me and they put me in the best position behind Kool and then when I saw the 200m to go sign, I just went full gas!

“I am really happy and really satisfied with these two wins. I also think the Team is really happy as well. We were working for a bunch sprint and my teammates did an amazing job during the whole race and they also did another really good lead-out at the end. I really want to say thank you to all of my teammates.

“I was with Clara after the last corner and then I saw that there was Charlotte there too and I thought that her wheel was the best position for me. Then, when I saw 200m to go, I just went full gas. It was hard, because I know that she [Charlotte Kool] is really strong so I was not sure at all, but also because there are other strong sprinters here too and so, for that reason, a sprint is always difficult. But then, when I saw that I was in a good position, I really believed that I could win. It was a really nice sprint.

“We will race for a strong team for the next races but this is an extra boost in confidence for us but, with such a strong teammates, we can play different options as well. I am just really happy with this win and I want to live day by day but, for sure, Gent-Wevelgem is one of my favourite races and so I really hope we an do a good race on Sunday!”

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