Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini is hoping to build on the form that carried her to third place in the wet and muddy Strade Bianche two weeks ago as she takes on her local race at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio. The 26-year-old Italian Champion won the 2013 edition of the Trofeo Binda in even worse conditions, on a course that is a short ferry ride across Lago Maggiore from her home in Verbania.
“I’m looking forward to Sunday because it’s going to be a very hard race,” she said. “It’s going to be wet, like Strade Bianche, or maybe even worse. It may even be as bad as in 2013, and the forecast is for only 4 degrees. The winter doesn’t seem to want to go away this year!”
The 131km race sets out from nearby Taino, on a long loop that takes in the the climb to Cunardo, before four laps of a familiar 18km circuit based on the climb to Orino that has proved so decisive in the past. With her main targets later in the spring, Longo Borghini will start the race somewhere off her best condition, but - as in the Strade Bianche - expects to play a role in the race as usual.
“I’m not at the top, but I’m feeling fine,” she said. “But as I’ve said before, if I’m in the game I just like to play. For sure if I’m there I’m going to be active, and probably there will be more teammates of mine up there, so we can try to make a good race together.
“I just hope for a fun race, as it was at Strade Bianche!” she laughed. “Well, it wasn’t really fun, but it was okay - I liked it!”
Longo Borghini will be joined by the climbing talents of Japanese Champion Eri Yonamine, Austrian Champion Martina Ritter and French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot. Cordon-Ragot in particular will be extra determined after having been forced out of Strade Bianche after being brought down by a crash.
“I think Audrey is in very good shape,” Longo Borghini said. “I think her hand is now recovered and she will for sure be hungry because she had a bit of a bittersweet taste from Strade Bianche, after her crash, because she was feeling very well. I think she can do a very good job on Sunday.”
The team will be completed by former Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin and World and Olympic Track Champion Elinor Barker, who makes her first appearance on the road for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling since her previous spell with the team in 2014. The 23-year-old Welsh star has recently competed on the track, at the World Championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, but will hopefully be able to translate that form for this sort of course.
“We will see, for sure she can do a good job for helping with the team with positioning and chasing down breakaways,” Longo Borghini said. “Even though I hope we are in the breakaways and we don’t have to chase it down. But yeah, I think for sure she’s a champion and she knows how to race."
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio
Elinor Barker (Great Britain), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Elisa Longo Borghini(Italy), Martina Ritter (Austria), Eri Yonamine (Japan)
photo Wagner Araujo
photo Jay Adeff