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Elisa Longo Borghini: It's possible to do the Giro-Tour double in 2022

Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) celebrates a victory at 2021 GP de Plouay
Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) celebrates a victory at 2021 GP de Plouay (Image credit: Getty Images)

Elisa Longo Borghini has mapped out her ambitions ahead of the upcoming new season to include a focus on the Ardennes Classics in April followed by the Giro d’Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes, both set for July. 

In an interview with members of the press on Tuesday, Longo Borghini spoke about the strength of her team, Trek-Segafredo, as a unit and the possibility of one rider winning the back-to-back Giro-Tour double in 2022.

“Some men have done it, no? So probably also some women can do it [in 2022]. It depends on who takes the start of the Giro and what she wants from the race," Longo Borghini said.

"I see some riders going into the Giro to have a good block of training, instead of being at altitude [camp], and so it needs to be a race that is worth it. It needs to be a hard Giro where they can actually train hard, instead of choosing to stay home to train at altitude.

"I think it’s possible to [win] the double, you need to be a big champion to do so, but you can do it."

The men’s Giro d’Italia and Tour de France have been won by the same rider in the same season on 10 occasions, and the last rider to have done so was Marco Pantani in 1998. The men’s events are each held across 21 days of racing, and separated by roughly a month, with the Giro d’Italia in May and the Tour de France in July. 

The 2022 Women’s WorldTour calendar will offer the 10-day Giro d’Italia Donne from July 1-10 just ahead of the rebirth of the women’s Tour de France that will be held across eight days from July 24-31. 

The Giro d’Italia Donne is one of the longest-standing events on the women’s calendar, with the inaugural edition held in 1988, and it will host its 33rd edition next summer. The last ASO-run women’s Tour de France was held between 1984-89. Italian Maria Canins won the Tour in 1985 and 1986 and won the Giro in 1988, which was the first year that the two races were held in the same year. French rider Jeannie Longo dominated the 1987-89 editions of the Tour.

The cancellation of the women's race from the official Tour de France left a gaping hole in the women's calendar for three years, until Pierre Boué created his own version of the event called the Tour Cycliste Féminin in 1992. Italian Fabiana Luperini won both the women’s Giro d’Italia and the Tour Cycliste Féminin in the same years three times in 1995-97, and then won the Giro on two more occasions in 1998 and 2008. Spanish rider Joane Somarriba also won both events in the same year, in 2000, after the French race was renamed Grand Boucle Féminine Internationale.

Although Longo Borghini felt that the Giro-Tour double could be accomplished despite the two events being held back-to-back next July, she hopes that future editions of the Giro d’Italia Donne would follow the men’s event in May.

“It would be great if the Giro could be in May straight after the men’s Giro because it would give a better structure to our calendar. Also, logistically it would be much better,” she said.

“This season is like this and we have to accept it and go out and do everything to be in our best shape for both races, or maybe to go to the Giro having an idea that, in the end, we want to be very strong at the Tour. For me, it’s a prestige to be at the start line of both races and I will not choose only one, at least not this year.”

Unity at Trek-Segafredo

ROUBAIX FRANCE OCTOBER 02 Elisabeth DeignanArmitstead of United Kingdom celebrates winning with her teammates Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy and Audrey CordonRagot of France and Team Trek Segafredo during the 1st ParisRoubaix 2021 Womens Elite a 1164km race from Denain to Roubaix ParisRoubaixFemmes ParisRoubaix on October 02 2021 in Roubaix France Photo by Etienne Garnier PoolGetty Images

Elisa Longo Borghini, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Lizzie Deignan after the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 30-year-old has been one of the biggest contenders in women’s one-day and stage racing over the last 10 years and has twice finished on the podium at the Giro d’Italia Donne earning second place in 2017 and third place in 2020. She has also won the Tour of Flanders, Strade Bianche, GP de Plouay, twice won Trofeo Alfredo Binda. This year she finished third at Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and in the road race at the Olympic Games.

She confirmed that she will focus on the Ardennes Classics before turning her attention to equally important stage races at the Giro d’Italia Donne and Tour de France Femmes in 2022. 

For Tour de France Femmes, Longo Borghini said that she would like to compete in a more open and aggressive role within her team.

“We finalised the schedule in November, and first of all, the Ardennes Classics are my first goal, and then I will ride the Giro and the Tour, and all the other races will be kind of an opportunity to grab a victory and show up to be there, be aggressive, and race like I always like to do,” Longo Borghini said.

“[Tour de France Femmes] is a big goal and I would like to go there with an open mind and an open role. If you just focus on the overall then maybe you put too much pressure on yourself. It’s good to go there and dive into the race and see what happens each stage, and try to get away with a stage win. It’s going to be very exciting. 

"All of the girls that were at the presentation told me that it’s something really big and the expectations are really high. I want to stand with my feet on the pavement, as we say in Italian, and not fly too much, but to be there fighting all the time, which is the only thing that I am able to do.”

Asked how her team Trek-Segafredo decides on a leadership role for an event given that there are so many accomplished athletes – including Lizzie Deignan, Lucinda Brand and Ellen van Dijk, to name a few – Longo Borghini said that unity is their strength, not any one individual rider.

“Our strength is our unity and we can switch roles during the race pretty easily. The environment is really good and we like to race for each other and with each other, so it is natural who will be the leader and sometimes we decide it during the race.”

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.