Elisa Longo Borghini says that the thought of racing with her new team has her so excited it has given her goosebumps. After four years with the Wiggle-High5 team, the Italian is starting a new chapter in her career with the nascent Trek-Segafredo team and she is raring to go.
“I look to next year with goosebumps. I’m so looking forward to start racing,” Longo Borghini told Cyclingnews at the recent training camp in foothills of Mount Etna.
“I think it’s a team of superstars. We are a team of so many strong riders and it is the first time I’m on a team with so many good riders. For me, it’s really stimulating. It’s a boost, to give you that pedal stroke more in anything that I do. I’m more excited.
“I have the feeling that training with these super strong girls will be super fun and I can’t wait to pin the number on my back because I miss it.”
The switch to Trek-Segafredo reunites Longo Borghini with friend and former teammate Giorgia Bronzini. The Italian retired at the end of this season and is now a directuer sportif alongside fellow former sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. Longo Borghini raced with Bronzini at Wiggle before her move to Cylance for her final season. She has previously credited Bronzini with helping her win her Tour of Flanders win in 2015.
“It’s strange to think about it but somehow Giorgia has always been our DS because when she was on the bike she was always directing us,” said Longo Borghini. “I know her so well and I’m used to hearing directions from here. I hope that it is going to be as fun as it has been previously because it was amazing. Also, my decision to be in this team was because Giorgia was joining. I was super excited to work with her again.
“Ina intimidates me a bit but she’s cool, she’s a great leader. I like people who have a strong character and sports directors that have a point all the time and have a little bit of an iron fist.”
Longo Borghini’s positive outlook comes despite a difficult 2018 season that saw much of the opening part of her season affected by illness. It started well with a podium at Strade Bianche but went downhill as the season progressed. There were some positives along the way and Longo Borghini is trying to cling onto those as she heads into 2019.
“It was very difficult to be fair. The first part was physically difficult and mentally very hard. I want to take the positives from this year and I want to see it as a year where I learned a lot,” she explained.
“I learned the importance about looking after yourself, to look a little bit more into staying healthy and maybe not training too much. Small things that can make a difference. I just want to think about the positive things, what I’ve learned, instead of thinking about what I lost because I lost everything to be fair.
“In a career, there can be one year that goes wrong, these things happen. It’s okay, nobody has died, I’m still here talking to you and I’m smiling.”
Having been given the opportunity to start afresh at Trek-Segafredo, she’s eager to return the favour to those who have shown faith in her. With her health hopefully intact over her spring campaign, Longo Borghini can also enjoy the backing of a strong Classics line-up. The team has signed the likes of fellow former Flanders champion Ellen van Dijk as well as Lotta Lepisto, among others.
“It’s super organised and I’ve never had this treatment in any other team before. It’s super nice. My hope is to give back with results all this good treatment. I feel indebted and I want to give back with results and achievement,” Longo Borghini told Cyclingnews.
“Having such a strong team allows you to play the game in a race, which is fantastic. Once you can play your game, your tactic, it’s super fun and that’s what I like about cycling.
“I would like to be in a good condition for the Ardennes because it’s two years now that I’ve missed the condition there and it’s like I have itchy feet. Then, the Giro I would like to be good there. This doesn’t mean that I’ll win the Giro, but I want to be in my best shape and play the game instead of suffering there.”