Team SD Worx will start the GP Plouay with Elena Cecchini, Mischa Bredewold, Marlen Reusser, Christine Majerus and Niamh Fisher-Black. The Italian road captain knows the French one-day race like the back of her hand. Cecchini hopes to get a nice result from a free-rider role. “This race suits me. We will race offensive. Hopefully we can build on this season’s success,” Cecchini said with determination.
“The GP Plouay, together with the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, is one of my favourite races,” Cecchini enthused. “In 2016, I finished in Plouay a few centimetres from victory. I always want to be good there, because this race is normally an important measure of value in the Italian selection for the World Championships. The fact that the World Championships has already passed will probably play a role in the course. For some riders, this is now a typical end-of-season race and the motivation is a bit less. However, the European championship is an important goal for me and for the Italian team. In the GP Plouay, I definitely want to show myself.”
After ten participations, Cecchini knows the GP Plouay inside out. “The course of the race is always open. Sometimes a breakaway stays away, sometimes 30 riders sprint for the win. You can also win this race solo. In recent years, the course has changed a lot, but it has always remained a difficult race. This year, we have an almost identical course to the men’s. With a first part in line before arriving at the local circuit. If it becomes a sprint, this is no ordinary sprint either. You arrive at full speed and then a sloping plane. That suits me.”
Elena Cecchini hopes to go her own way. “We will come to the start with a strong team. Since Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes are not here, we can race attacking. Marlen Reusser can try it solo. Last year, the breakaway stayed away until the end. Personally, I am curious about my form. After the World Championships I needed some rest. Now I feel I’m getting better every day.”
During pre-season training, Cecchini had begun to anticipate a successful 2023 campaign. “In November and December, we still had slight doubts internally. With the pregnancy of Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, the retired Anna van der Breggen, Karol-Ann Canuel and Jolien D’hoore, we had lost some defining riders since 2021 who carried the team’s DNA. We hoped the core of the team was still strong enough to teach the young and new girls what Team SD Worx is all about. In December, our training sessions were not as good as in previous years. The motivation was perhaps not quite there yet. Which is somewhat logical since the seasons are long because there is less specialisation in women’s cycling. But in January and February you could feel a different approach. In all my career, I had never suffered so much during training camps as I did in the run-up to this season. It was sometimes a nightmare to train with the team. Then I said to our sport directors: we are going to have a great classic campaign. Our leaders are making each other better. And that makes the whole team rise above themselves. But that we would already have 56 wins by the end of August, I didn’t expect that either!”