It's been two years since Marta Bastianelli's impressive victory at the 2019 Tour of Flanders where she powered over the line ahead of late-race breakaway companions Annemiek van Vleuten and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, the Italian one-day specialist admitted that she's not 100 per cent, and that she will be hoping to find her strength and some good luck in Oudenaarde at this year's edition of the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.
"We miss winning, and for the team, we know how important it is, but each of us is still missing something; luck, good feelings or just a matter of time," said Bastianelli, who will line up with her Alè BTC Ljubljana Cipollini team at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday to test their legs one last time before the Tour of Flanders.
Bastianelli is not quite at her winning form of 2018 and 2019, but she is working her way forward, taking sixth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, ninth at Nokere Koerse, and fifth at Gent-Wevelgem this spring.
"I'm fine but the condition is still not 100 per cent due to a year [last year] that was very bad for me and my body," Bastianelli said, referring to the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy.
Bastianelli missed the move at the Classic Brugge-De Panne and the field split apart several times again at Gent-Wevelgem, and in both races that was due to crosswinds and strong team tactics throughout the peloton.
She had a powerful teammate in Marlen Reusser to help navigate and close down dangerous gaps on climbs and through crosswinds, and that will likely happen at Tour of Flanders.
"Tour of Flanders is a very tough race, like all the races we are racing right now. If you have 'gasoline' you are with them, otherwise you arrive with second or third groups," Bastianelli said of the number of strong teams and riders participating on the Women's WorldTour this season.
Bastianelli is a former world champion and one-day race specialist, who has won Gent-Wevelgem (2018), Ronde van Drenthe (2019), and Tour of Flanders (2019). When she won Gent-Wevelgem, it was from a bunch sprint, but she won Tour of Flanders from a late-race attack after making it over the relentless climbs during the race, so she is capable of contesting for the win in both scenarios.
Asked if she believes that she can win Tour of Flanders again, Bastianelli said, "I'm honest ... but, never say never."
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