How the Race Finished
The world champion, Elisa Balsamo, won Trofeo Alfredo Binda in a perfectly timed sprint. Despite an aggressive and attritional race, Trek-Segafredo could give her an ideal lead-out in the final kilometres for the reduced bunch sprint, despite the efforts of Marlen Reusser for SD Worx. Sofia Bertizollo (UAE Team ADQ) took second, and Soraya Paladin (Canyon//SRAM Racing) took third, making it an all-Italian podium.
The Main Action
The race looped 141.8km around Lombardy, mainly in repetitively hilly laps. As they headed out from Cocquio Trevisago, Gulnaz Khatuntseva of the new WWT Team, Roland Cogeas Edelweiss, went on an early solo breakaway. She was later joined by two riders from Italian continental teams, Giorgio Vettorello (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) and Michaela Drummond (Bepink). They had a gap of nearly two minutes at one point, but it began to drop as they went over the steep climbs at Casalzuigno – the first of its five appearances – and Cunardo.
With 89km to go, they were forced to a stop by a serious car accident up ahead, external to the race, and the race was neutralised. They were approaching the climb at Orino, but the accident forced a detour, and the quick mapping of a new route to Cittiglio. Luckily, this didn’t affect the route for the final four laps. Before the race got back to full pace, the break were allowed to get back to their previous position, thirty seconds ahead of the peloton. The peloton was in no hurry to get them back, though, and their gap expanded again, crossing the finish line in Cittiglio and starting the first of four laps with about 1’40”.
After a small crash that involved last year’s winner, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), there was an attack from Mikayla Harvey (Canyon-SRAM), in her first race of the season. The breakaway was shortly caught, as was Harvey; with the first lap done, the WWT teams were assembling at the front of the peloton.
The first major attack came from Brodie Chapman (FDJ). A strong group followed her: Anna Shackley (SD-Worx), Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo), Erica Magnaldi (UAE Team ADQ), Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange), Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo-Visma), and Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM). Together, the group created a significant gap on a descent. A strong attack on the climb from Lianne Lippert (Team DSM) caught the group, and ripped apart the peloton behind.
The racing continued to be aggressive and attritional. FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine tried several more attacks. Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) attacked on a descent, followed closely by Anna Henderson (Jumbo Visma), but couldn’t keep clear. Erica Magnaldi (UAE Team ADQ) attacked on another descent, getting ten seconds on the peloton; she kept clear for a while, as the peloton calmed down a little, but was pulled back with 26km to go. Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine) swiftly attacked, getting eight seconds with 25km to go. Marlen Reusser chased her down on the next descent, and passed her, with a gap of seven seconds over the reduced peloton. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) and Ludwig formed a small group pursuing Reusser, catching her just as the bell rang for the final lap.
This leading group had, at one point, twenty seconds, and seemed as if they might go further than any of the previous attacks, but there was a lack of co-operation and their lead collapsed. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio attacked, but couldn’t get clear, and as they approached the final climb, the group remained relatively large. Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine) started off the attacks on the final ascent at Casalzuigno. A group broke off to join her at the sharp end of the climb, but they were caught on the descent.
Trek-Segafredo came to the front in the final kilometres to start leading out for Elisa Balsamo, with Ellen van Dijk and Elisa Longo Borghini pulling hard on the front. Marlen Reusser came to the front as the passed under the flamme rouge, but couldn’t put Balsamo under enough pressure. In the final strait, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak opened up the sprint, closely pursued by Sofia Bertizollo (UAE Team ADQ). At the very last moment – in fact, within the last hundred metres – Balsamo appeared, winning the sprint easily. She crossed the line with clear jubilation.
SD Worx managed two riders in the top-five, but no podium placements, with Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Elena Cecchini. With Cecchini and Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel & Service), four of the top five, and five of the top ten, were Italian; a race in Italy was clearly energizing.