The Italian started the year in impressive fashion, finishing second in Strade Bianche and taking a prestigious win in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She arrived in Belgium for a block of Classic racing and despite being on the attack during Gent-Wevelgem, she eventually faded to 33rd on the line – a result that did not do her performance justice. She raced in Dwars door Vlaanderen but wasn’t able to have a successful impact on the outcome of the race, with another top-30 result.
However, the Tour of Flanders has been a happy hunting ground for the Italian road champion with a famous win in 2015 and four further top-10 results. She heads into this weekend as part of a hugely ambitious Trek-Segafredo team that also boasts two additional previous winners in Lizzie Deignan and Ellen van Dijk.
“The races have gone pretty well. Gent-Wevelgem was an eventful race and then in Dwars door Vlaanderen we tried our best but it didn’t work out,” Longo Borghini told Cyclingnews.
“I was a little bit tired from Sunday’s race, which cost me a lot of energy both mentally and physically, so I just need a couple of days to rest and then I’ll be ready for Flanders. We’ve just been missing a little bit of luck but we’re trying our best and we can’t really complain. It was what it was. I’m feeling fine though, but like I said I just need to have a bit of a recovery as it’s been hard bike racing this last week. I’ll be ready for Sunday.”
On Thursday evening Deignan told Cyclingnews that she was hoping for an open and aggressive race. Such a scenario would play into Trek’s hands given their depth and experience. Longo Borghini wasn’t giving anything away about possible tactics but she hinted that she and her team would race on the front foot.
“As a team, we always try and race aggressively and that’s our style of racing and Flanders is going to be the same. We don’t have our final plan yet but we’ve got a few more days to really think about it and our manager and DS will decide our best plan for us.”
With the postponement of Paris-Roubaix until October due to public health concerns in France over rising COVID-19 case numbers, the Tour of Flanders takes on the added emphasis given that it’s the final cobbled race this spring.
“It’s special and it feels nice to have all these previous winners. Flanders though is the peak of this week. In the last year, we couldn’t really see that passion on the roadside but normally an entire nation is there to support you. The Belgians all come out and ride the cobbles and it’s almost like a festival. I’m sad that we can’t have the public but we need to be thankful that the race is happening during a pandemic year.”
While saddened by the second postponement of the women’s inaugural edition of Paris-Roubaix, the Trek-Segafredo rider completely understands the reasoning behind the decision.
“It’s disappointing but you’ve got to be realistic. You’ve got to first and foremost give space to public health because we don’t want to create any harm. If this decision has been made with a lot of reflection and thought, then of course I’m sad but I totally accept the decision. Public health has to be put first,” she said.
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