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Elisa Balsamo blog: The rainbow jersey was beyond all expectations

Elisa Balsamo is the reigning women's road world champion and wears the rainbow jersey in her inaugural season with Women's WorldTeam Trek-Segafredo in 2022.

She completed an impressive hat-trick this spring by sprinting to victory at three one-day races – Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Classic Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem.

Also the Italian road champion, Balsamo will line up to defend the rainbow jersey at the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia. She shares insights from the peloton in a blog series for Cyclingnews.

Here we are, at the moments of farewells. 

Not to the season, since there are a few days of racing left in October, but to this white jersey with the colors of the rainbow that I have worn for a year. 

In a few days it will be up for grabs again, in the road race in Wollongong. When I think about it, a little 'healthy' melancholy accompanies me. 

I admit that I have become attached to see myself racing with it. The idea to arrive early in September to take it off, to take the pressure or weight off my shoulders, never crossed my mind. 

However, on Saturday the 24th, it may pass on someone else's shoulders, and it is right that I should be aware of it. 

There was one fact that says a lot on how special this year has been for me. A couple of weeks ago, in Madrid, in my last race before leaving for Australia, I won. The same had happened in the first race with Trek-Segafredo in February. 

It was the closing of a circle, a very significant fact on how much this jersey was capable of spurring me to give more and more, to never give up, to honor every race. 

It carried my 2022 beyond all best expectations.

It has been like a second skin, a suit made exactly to measure that, at first, I had to get used to wearing it but then, it allowed me to shine everywhere. It made me realize that dreams don't have to stay in the drawer.

Being the world champion was an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It gave me so much awareness of my potential that, for someone who tends to be as insecure as I am, it was an impressive gear shift. 

I learned the sense of responsibility, because when a team has confidence in you and works hard to put you in the position to win, you can't back down. And in that, it fuelled me so much. 

I've been able to be consistent in my performances from February to now - a fact that makes me so, so happy. All that, thanks to the white jersey with the rainbow stripes.

On Saturday, I will do more than my best trying to wear it one more year. I know that repeating is very difficult. I know I will have a lot of eyes on me. But I also know that I can be calm and serene, because I have already won it one time.

All athletes, at least for one day in their life, should feel the excitement I felt in being the world champion. It was something unique that, with all my heart, I hope to experience again, sooner or later.

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Elisa Balsamo surprised the cycling world - and herself - when she outsprinted Marianne Vos to win the 2021 World Championship road race in Leuven. The Italian had already signed a contract with Trek-Segafredo and for 2022 brings the prestigious world champion’s jersey into the team. A highly-decorated Junior in both road and track, Elisa’s promise continued when she entered the pro ranks, taking victories in GP Bruno Beghelli (2018), a stage at the Tour of California (2019) and the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta (2020). The 2021 season was a breakthrough year for the 23-year-old, winning GP Oetingen and a stage at the Women’s Tour alongside the World title. Possessing a fast sprint, hard one-day races suit her best.