Guarnier, the 2016 Women's WorldTour overall champion, has just three race days logged so far this season, but crashed in her second outing, the Omloop van het Hageland on February 26. She started Strade Bianche on March 5, but was still suffering the effects of the crash and did not finish.
In Guarnier's absence, Deignan will get her first opportunity to race with 2016 Olympic Champion and new teammate Anna van der Breggen, who will be making her third start with her new team. Deignan said she was excited to see how van der Breggen's presence on the squad will affect the racing.
"I'm looking forward to racing for the first time with Anna," said Deignan, the 2015 World Champion. "Perhaps our new combination will create a new tactic."
Deignan took her second Trofeo Alfredo Binda title last year almost by accident after tactics played in her favour rather than designated team leader Guarnier. Deignan marked a dangerous move toward the end of the race and then soloed away for the win. Guarnier led the chase group home to complete the one-two.
With a 2017 roster that includes Deignan, van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Karol-Ann Canuel, Christine Majerus and Amy Pieters, Boels Dolmans may not be counting solely on Deignan to bring home a third win in as many years.
"We're going in with the usual philosophy of a team win rather than a third straight victory for me," Deignan said. "An aggressive race suits our strengths the best."
The 131km route consists of one large lap followed by four laps around a shorter 18km circuit. The short-but-steep Orino climb, featured on every lap, is the main cause of attrition on the opening laps and a launching point for race-winning moves later in the afternoon. A tricky descent follows the climb before a slight uphill drag to the line.
"The final circuit is challenging," Deignan said, "but we need it to be hard enough to drop anybody who could potentially pose a threat in a sprint. A small group of climbers with a Boels Dolmans numerical advantage would be ideal.
"The climb is not too long for me, but it is too long for most sprinters," Deignan said, explaining why the course plays to her strengths. "I have a good sprint in comparison to most of the riders who can climb. The finish straight itself is uphill, too, so it suits a lightweight sprinter. It's essentially an all-rounders course."
Riders expected to challenge Deignan and her Boels Dolmans teammates on Sunday include past winners Elisa Longo Borghini (WiggleHigh5) and Marianne Vos (WM3 Energie), Annemiek van Vleuten (Orica-Scott), Ellen van Dijk (Team Sunweb) and previous runner-up Pauline Ferrand-Prevot with Canyon-SRAM teammate Alena Amialiusik.
"It will be interesting to see which teams line up with which riders," Deignan said. "Some of the top women may choose Binda as a weekend to miss in terms of missing travel ahead of Flanders. Some riders may be racing as training. Others will focus on winning it. It's a mixed bag, which makes it unpredictable."
Boels-Dolmans for Trofeo Alfredo Binda: Chantal Blaak, Karol-Ann Canuel, Lizzie Deignan, Christine Majerus, Amy Pieters, and Anna van der Breggen.
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