Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini will lead the black and orange team into the Giro d’Italia Femminile - the Giro Rosa - which starts on Friday, without pressure or stress in the hunt for the Maglia Rosa. Although the former Italian Champion was unable to successfully defend her green, white and red tricolore jersey last month, she has welcomed a return to her accustomed good form after a tough spring, marred by illness and allergies.
“I’m looking forward to the Giro, but I’m going there with my mind really free,” she said. I’m just going with the flow, because I just don’t want to stress about the GC, especially after such a hard first part of the season. I just want to try to take out the best from everything that comes, and I don’t want pressure and I don’t want too much stress for the GC.
“I will see,” Longo Borghini added. “I will see my level is, and I will see where I stand.”
The ten-stage race begins on Friday with a 15.5km team time trial, in Longo Borghini’s home city of Verbania, along the shore of Lake Maggiore. The 26-year-old has many reasons to look forward to this, as well as the third stage which sees the race return to the area.
“For the TTT I think we have a very strong team, and we can do very well,” she said. “I’m actually looking forward to the TTT. It’s best not to think about [the Maglia Rosa] too much, and just to go full-gas!
“There are two stages at home, and it’s very nice that we I race on my home streets,” the Italian added. “I’m looking forward to it because I know there will be people cheering for me, and it’s always nice to have a crowd and the support.”
As well as the team time trial, there will be a 15km individual race against the clock, on stage seven, on the climb to Dighe di Campo Moro. As reigning Italian time trial champion it should be a stage that suits Longo Borghini.
“Probably I should look forward to it, but I know that it’s going to be very tough,” she laughed. “It’s going to be very interesting.
“I’m also very happy that we’re going to have the Monte Zoncolan,” she added, “but I honestly think that I am a bit too heavy for it. But I will do my best, without any stress.”
Longo Borghini will be supported in the race by an international line up, with French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Australian multiple Track World Champion Amy Cure, Austrian climber Martina Ritter, Japanese Champion Eri Yonamine and newly crowned Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin.
In addition to the mountain stages and time trials, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling will also target the sprints with the Netherlands’ triple World Track Champion Kirsten Wild.
“I think I have a lot of support, but my teammates have been very, very good in every race, and I’m happy to be racing with them again,” Longo Borghini said. “I missed them a bit!
“There are some flat stages that can suit Kirsten, and I think she can get away with a stage win, surely.”
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Giro d’Italia Femminile
Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Amy Cure (Australia), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), Martina Ritter (Austria), Kirsten Wild (Netherlands), Eri Yonamine (Japan)
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photos Janos Schmidt