The long-running Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio takes us to the second round of the Women’s WorldTour with a peloton packed with riders still hungry for that first win of the season and teams fighting to curb the early season dominance of SD Worx.
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) took the first round of the 2021 Women’s WorldTour at Strade Bianche and with that powerful show of form she’ll be one to watch again, though no doubt Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) will be even more driven to take that top step of the podium on home soil after coming so close at Siena. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) will also be challenging for a fifth win while 2019 runner up Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange) looks to make the most of the familiar training roads.
There’s likely to be aggressive racing from the early stages of the hilly 141.8 kilometre event, which was last year cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Italian race is run on a course with plenty of room for the attacks to launch but has also at times come down to a battle for the sprinters, so there are plenty of riders in with a chance to win. We’ve narrowed it down to some of the best, so read on to see who we have picked as our ten riders to watch as the race loops its way around Cittiglio on Sunday.
- Team: Jumbo-Visma
- Age: 33
- Race record: 1st in 2009, 1st in 2010, 1st in 2012, 6th in 2013, 29th in 2017, 3rd in 2018, 1st in 2019
After stepping onto the top step of the podium four times there is no doubt that this Dutch rider has earned her place at the head of the list. Plenty of hills on the course and a final uphill drag to the line are a great combination for the punchy rider with a seemingly never ending list of wins to her name. This year she has as much incentive to go all out for victory as ever with her new team, and Vos herself, looking for that first season victory on the road in 2021.
Usually at this time of the year Vos is just opening up her road season while her rivals have plenty of racing in their legs, not so this year with all the early season cancellations. Plus after starting with a seventh at Strade Bianche and a podium spot at GP Oetingen it looks like she is quickly returning to form after her post cyclocross season break. Form that means few will want to be in a group with the Dutch rider to watch her unleash that powerful sprint that left her rivals so far behind in 2019 that she could sit up and start celebrating before even crossing the line.
- Team: SD Worx
- Age: 31
- Race record: 8th in 2009, 59th in 2010, 68th in 2012, 5th in 2013, 27th in 2014, 32nd in 2015, 12th in 2016, 4th in 2017, 2nd in 2018
After winning the Tour of Flanders near the end of her season last year and then, somewhat surprisingly, managing to out climb Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) on the Via Santa Caterina at Strade Bianche earlier this month, Van den Broek-Blaak is working on an impressive win rate. She has triumphed in two of her last four races.
The 2017 world champion’s win at the opening round of the of the Women’s WorldTour, combined with a string of victories from her teammates, means SD Worx has five wins already in 2021, even though the early season calendar was decimated by cancellations. The team have started the season with the dominant form that saw its former incarnation, Boels Dolmans, topping the results table year after year, at least until 2020 when Trek-Segafredo trumped the Dutch team. That means while Van den Broek-Blaak may be a serious contender, so are a good proportion of her teammates, which means we’ll have to wait to see who among them the team, and race, decide is going for the win.
- Team: Trek-Segafredo
- Age: 29
- Race record: 25th in 2011, 25th in 2012, 1st in 2013, 6th in 2014, 4th in 2015, 9th in 2017, 10th in 2018 and 33rd in 2019
The Italian champion’s win in this race back in 2013 came from an early attack and then a solo run to the line after she shook Amanda Spratt off her wheel in the final climbs. Winning solo is what Longo-Borghini does best, as while she enjoys the hills a sprint isn’t her forte, so she’s bound to take an aggressive approach to the race on Sunday, just as she did at the Strade Bianche. This time though she’ll be hoping she can save a bit more for that final dash, so she can deliver a repeat of 2013 and shake any riders that may still be left on those final climbs.
Also working to her advantage is that she has Lizzie Deignan, who missed Strade Bianche with a cold, back on the roster which strengthens Longo Borghini and provides another strong option for the team.
- Team: Trek-Segafredo
- Age: 32
- Race record: DNF in 2013, 2nd in 2014, 1st in 2015, 1st in 2016, 39th in 2017
Deignan and Longo Borghini make a good team, and while chances are that Trek-Segafredo will be backing Longo Borghini – particularly with Deignan having been out with a cold – it could well be a case of the race deciding who has the opportunity to go for the win rather than the squad.
The top rider in the 2020 Women’s WorldTour has twice won at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, in 2015 and 2016, and even though we have little to indicate what type of form Deignan is in, with her only race being Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month, the British rider is one never to underestimate.
- Team: BikeExchange
- Age: 33
- Race record: 62nd in 2011, 37th in 2012, 4th in 2013, 25th in 2014, 78th in 2015, 27th in 2017, 4th in 2018, 2nd in 2019
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Amanda Spratt take to the podium, in fact apart from her team time trial appearance at the Giro Rosa we have to look back to Australia in early 2020, but a lot of that was circumstance, with her crash at the Giro Rosa curtailing her season just as the key goal of Road Worlds was on the horizon. This race is one that suits Spratt and it's on roads where she has spent time training so she certainly has the potential to step onto the podium, clearly demonstrated by the fact that she came second to Vos back in 2019.
The race isn’t a key target for the 33-year-old rider but her form should be building toward the Ardennes, which are a key target. Plus she’ll have some strong support, or perhaps handy alternate options to take the pressure off, in Lucy Kennedy and Ane Santesteban.
- Team: FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
- Age: 25
- Race record: DNF in 2015, 3rd in 2017, 7th in 2018, 3rd in 2019
The 25-year-old Dane has twice found her way onto the podium in this race, coming in behind Vos and Spratt in 2019 and impressively taking third from a rare bunch sprint at the race in 2017, which was won by Coryn Rivera. With a couple more years of racing since she last contested the event and a strong team behind her, it’s certainly not a stretch to think Uttrup Ludwig could work her way even further up the podium this year.
The fifth place at Strade Bianche bodes well, as does the fact that her teammate Marta Cavalli wasn’t far behind in eighth, with the Italian rider another strong option for FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope.
- Team: Alé BTC Ljubljana
- Age: 37
- Race record: 33rd in 2018, 24th in 2019
The Spanish Champion marked herself out as a rider to watch in races that reward attackers after looking like she may just be able to pull off the win at Strade Bianche with a 40 kilometre attack in 2020. In the end Annemiek van Vleuten caught her, but Garcia wasn’t easily shaken and held on for second.
That performance was just one of many that impressed in 2020 and while the 37 year old hasn’t managed to work her way into the top ten yet this year, her 13th at Strade Bianche earlier this month was heading in the right direction. Plus she is a rider that is prepared to take a chance and has the strength to pull off a hilly long-range attack, factors that could just work in her favour at this Italian race as well.
- Team: Canyon-Sram
- Age: 26
- Race Record: 36th in 2013, DNF in 2014, 13th in 2015, 7th in 2016, 8th in 2017, 1st in 2018, 6th in 2019
The 26-year-old didn’t manage to deliver on her goal of stepping up to the top step of the podium at Strade Bianche, after coming so close so many times, but if she can get away on the hilly terrain around Cittiglio she just may be able to deliver in the second Italian race of the Women’s WorldTour instead.
Niewiadoma netted the win in 2017, going solo across the line after launching an all or nothing attack and she’s got a team behind her that’ll allow for aggressive racing, including Alena Amialiusik, Hannah Barnes and Mikayla Harvey,
- Team: Canyon Sram
- Age: 22
- Race record: DNF in 2019
The rider who found a home at Canyon-Sram after Équipe Paule Ka folded late last year is based in Varese. That means Harvey walks into this race with as much as a hometown advantage as any New Zealander can get in a Women’s WorldTour race. The unrelenting course also plays to Harvey’s strengths and while she usually struggles with technical courses she has said that won’t be an issue this time as she knows every descent and every pothole on the descents of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
While she didn't have any success at the race in 2019, delivering a DNF, a lot has changed for the 22-year-old rider since then. Not only does she now have considerably more experience but also carries the confidence earned from a breakthrough season in 2020 after delivering fifth overall and taking the youth classification at the Giro Rosa, along with her first Women’s WorldTour individual stage podium.
- Team: TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank
- Age: 20
- Race record: Debut
The young Australian has made her way onto our riders to watch list not because we expect her to be a contender in this race, but because of her potential to be one in the years to come.
It is the Victorian rider’s eagerly awaited debut at a European Women’s WorldTour race and the start of her very first solid international season. She may not have delivered any remarkable results in the brief forays outside Australia, yet, but given the generous serves of humble pie many notable Australian riders have been served by this young rider on home soil it seems only a matter of time before the two-time Australian time-trial champion and winner of the 2019 Australian road race finds her feet in Europe. In the meantime, you aren’t likely to find many Australians in the peloton that will be game to underestimate her as they've most likely already learnt the hard way just what happens if they do.
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