The Italian inked a three-year contract with the American squad before her rainbow jersey winning ride and next year will link up with Elisa Longo Borghini, Lizzie Deignan and Ellen van Dijk as she embarks on a Classics campaign as part of a WorldTour team for the first time in her career. Balsamo has developed via the Italian-based Valcar team, with important spells in the Italian track and road national team.
“Right now she brings the world championships jersey, on top of everything else,” said Trek-Segafredo director Ina Teutenberg.
“She’s a really young and talented rider and she’s proven that. She’s a Classics rider with a really fast finish. We’ve wanted her before and we tried to get her, but it worked out this year. She will help us out in the Classics and it will just help us to have a fast finisher there.”
With Deignan, van Dijk and Longo Borghini all capable of winning races with long-range attacks and of breaking up races earlier than expected, the addition of Balsamo adds a new strength to the squad and compliments the existing sprinting talents of Chloe Hosking. Balsamo has the edge in terms of climbing, and her strong bond with Longo Borghini was key at the World Championships this year.
“She has heart. She’s really tough and gets over climbs, so I put her on the line with riders like Lotto Kopecky who can get to the line and still have a finish at the end,” Teutenberg suggested.
“If long-range moves don’t work then we still have a finisher. I think the important thing is that we’re still going to ride aggressively in the Classics. Elisa was fantastic in the Worlds. She was amazing, in such a tough race, so to finish it off as the world champion, that’s just hard to beat.”
Balsamo recently capped her ride in the Women’s Tour with a stage win on the final day of racing. The Italian is still getting used to life as the elite world champion but her dedication and determination shone through during the British stage race with her maiden win in the rainbow jersey coming after she took second in the previous stage.
“I’ve got a lot of feelings about the race still and wearing this jersey is like a dream for me,” she told Cyclingnews when asked about her Worlds win.
“Not much has changed for me in the peloton but a lot of riders have congratulated me, and for me, and that’s a great sign.”
It’s unclear if Balsamo will ride the UCI Track World Championships in France later this month, with the rider still undecided on the matter, but she will carry on dovetailing her track and road ambitions over the coming season, even if road racing takes a more prominent role.
“Next year I’ll carry on with the track but I’ll have more focus on the road. Paris in 2024 is still a big goal for me and I still feel like I have something to aim for on the track but there are three years until that point, so it’s not something that I need to think about now," said Balsamo.
"With Trek I can really improve and I feel like I can make a lot of progress there. The team has a lot of big champions, so there’s a lot I can learn from them. I know Elisa Longo Borghini well, of course, but there are other really strong riders like Deignan and van Dijk.”
Balsamo won GP Oetingen this year and backed that up with a string of top-ten rides in the major spring Classics. Although her race programme for next year is still unclear she has one eye on the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem. She finished fourth in the latter this year, and 15th in Flanders.
“I don’t know my race programme yet, we’ll decide in December but I think the Spring Classics will be there. My dream is to win Spring Classics, so that’s what I’ll work towards. I really like Gent-Wevelgem and Flanders but they’re all beautiful for me,” she said.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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