Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) has decided to hang up her wheels following the 2016 World Championships in Qatar. The two-time world champion, who will be just 33 next October, says she wants to quit while she’s ahead. Bronzini has no concrete plans following her retirement but is keen to stay in cycling, with the idea of coaching or even perhaps acting as a directeur sportif in the future.
"Nobody has told me to stop, it is my decision," she told Cyclingnews at the team’s Buckinghamshire hotel ahead of the Women’s Tour. "For cycling, I’m stopping quite early but I really feel like now is the moment. I feel a little bit tired and I don’t want to force myself so that I hate it. That’s one of the worst things you can do. I want to leave cycling when I can still enjoy it."
Bronzini has an illustrious palmarès that includes two world titles on the road - Geelong 2010 and Copenhagen 2011 – a track world title in the points race at the 2009 championships in Pruszków, Poland, and six stage wins of the Giro d’Italia. The Qatar World Championships are tailor-made for Bronzini, who won her two road titles in sprints, but her big focus for her final season comes a little over a month earlier.
"For me the important thing is the Olympic Games," said Bronzini. "I’m ready to sacrifice myself to work better on the climbs. I know it is a sacrifice but it is my last season and I want to do that and, for me, it is a dream to go to the Olympic Games.
"After that, it is up to the coach to pick me for the Worlds in Qatar. Qatar is the opposite but I’m never going to forget how to sprint. I think there is time to prepare for both."
Bronzini currently doesn’t have a team for her final year of racing, with her current contract with Wiggle-Honda up for renewal at the end of the season. She joined the team in its inaugural season in 2013 and had her best year to date with a total of 17 victories. Whether she is offered a new contract is out of her hands but the effervescent Italian would like to stay put.
Focusing on the short term
There is still the small matter of the 2015 season to attend to before Bronzini can focus on going out with a bang. She arrived in Britain on Sunday afternoon for the Women’s Tour, which is set to begin this Wednesday. The 31-year-old finished fourth at last year’s race and has set her stall out for this year as she looks to build on her two victories so far in 2015.
While she goes into the race as the team’s leader, Bronzini believes that, with the likes of Elisa Longo Borghini and Jolien D’hoore lining up, Wiggle-Honda will be formidable adversaries. "I’m confident, not just for my shape but I’m confident for the team. I think that we have all the kinds of riders that we need for this kind of race. We have riders that can cover the break, that can jump into the break and can win in the break, in bunch sprints and climbs. So we have everything and we have top girls here for this kind of race."
The race organisers have gone for a lumpier course than last year, where Marianne Vos won, with the final stage to Hemel Hempstead the toughest of the week. On Monday morning, Wiggle-Honda went out with a group of journalists to recon part of that stage before completing the final section in the team cars.
It will be a challenging day but Bronzini doesn’t think that it will make much difference to the overall classification. "I think whoever has the GC in that stage will probably keep it. Because for a sprinter like Lizzie or me, it is difficult to drop us in these kinds of climbs," she explained. "For example, Elisa is the best climber in the peloton here but they are short climbs. If we going to need her because we haven’t got a jersey then for sure we’ll ask for her to make a really hard race but we hope to be in a good position there."
After the women’s Tour, Bronzini will return to Italy for the national championships followed by the Giro Rosa. "In the Giro, I have a goal to try to win a stage and be important for our GC rider. After that there is the Sparkassen World Cup which is one of my goals and then I am focusing on the Worlds," Bronzini said.
"It’s a technical lap but I can see myself in that race and I can be in the final. I would really like to be in good shape there and then afterwards we will see what happens."