Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service) could not have wished for a better end to her 2021 season. After a somewhat disappointing Olympic campaign with the Italian track team where she missed out on medals in the Team Pursuit, Madison, and Omnium, the 23-year-old refocused on the World Championships in Flanders where she was supported by a strong Italian team and sprinted to victory in Leuven.
Wearing her brand-new rainbow jersey, Balsamo returned to her trade team to race the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes as well as The Women's Tour where she won stage 6 in a sprint, beating Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) who had won the previous two stages. It was the perfect parting gift as Balsamo had been announced at Trek-Segafredo in late August, having signed a three-year contract with the Women's WorldTour team after five seasons at Valcar-Travel & Service.
"Winning in this jersey is something special, it was the perfect day. This adventure with Valcar-Travel & Service could not have ended in a better way, because this is my last race with the team. We also showed today that we are one of the best teams in organising a sprint train. We knew we were strong in the sprints, but today was perfect. My team did a great lead-out for me, and I have to thank them for this victory," said Balsamo.
Balsamo is not an extremely prolific winner, but when she does win, it is often a big victory. She remained winless in her first elite season at age 19 but has racked up 11 UCI victories since then, including the U23 European Championships and stages of the Tour of California and Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta before winning the world title.
Valcar Travel & Service were equally happy about Balsamo's victory in her last race for the team, tweeting "Thank you Elisa! This victory in the rainbow jersey is the greatest gift you could have given to our team".
The world champion is the latest in a succession of talented riders that moved on to bigger teams after being developed at the Italian squad clad in blue and pink, following in the footsteps of Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ceratizit-WNT), Teniel Campbell (Team BikeExchange), and Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope). For 2022 and beyond, Trek-Segafredo will gain a strong sprinter who is also versatile in classics and hillier races – and brings the rainbow jersey.
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