Trofeo Alfredo Binda 2022 – preview

CITTIGLIO ITALY MARCH 21 Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy and Team Trek Segafredo during the 45th Trofeo Alfredo BindaComune di Cittiglio 2021 Womens Elite a 1418km stage from Cocquio Trevisago to Cittiglio 257m Breakaway TrBinda UCIWWT on March 21 2021 in Cittiglio Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Elisa Longo Borghini attacks in the 2021 Trofeo Binda (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The 2022 Women’s WorldTour heads into its third round this weekend with the Trofeo Binda Comune di Cittiglio in Northern Italy. Named after Italian cycling legend Alfredo Binda, the race first ran in 1974 and has become a staple of the women’s calendar and one of the most prestigious spring classics.

Set on the tough terrain of Lombardy, the route is hilly but not mountainous and incorporates laps of a challenging circuit before a flat run into the finish in Cittiglio. Unlike many of its fellow Classics, Trofeo Binda doesn’t feature any cobbles or gravel, but the unrelenting climbs make this one of the hardest races on the spring calendar.

The course can and does lend itself to a variety of different outcomes: solo attacks, small groups or a reduced bunch sprint on the relatively flat finish. The repeated circuits and volume of climbing can make for an attritional race, so it takes a strong all-rounder to win Trofeo Binda. 

Recent winners include Marianne Vos, Coryn Labecki and Kasia Niewiadoma, and in 2021 it was Elisa Longo Borghini who took her second victory at the race, eight years after her first. Longo Borghini dominated that race, winning by over a minute, so long, solo attacks can pay off on this course.

Similar to the last WorldTour race, Ronde van Drenthe, Trofeo Binda’s start line won’t feature all 14 WorldTeams. After skipping Drenthe, Movistar and Roland Cogeas Edelweiss are back on the start list, but Uno-X and Human Powered Health will be absent. The packed spring season has forced some more stretched teams to be selective with their programmes but with 12 WorldTour teams confirmed for Sunday, we can still expect a top-tier field.

Who to watch

After such a dominant performance in 2021, and having finished in the top 10 in all but one of her starts at Trofeo Binda, Trek-Segafredo's Elisa Longo Borghini has to be one of the top contenders for the win. Longo Borghini’s advantage on this course is that she can perform well in almost any outcome: she’s unlikely to be dropped from a big group, she’s capable of sticking with a select group, and she has the power to both go solo and contest a reduced sprint. 

There are few races more suited to Longo Borghini in the spring calendar, so we can expect Trek to put their support behind the Italian in her attempt at back-to-back wins here. Trek are also fielding World Champion Elisa Balsamo, who will be a big favourite if the race finishes in a bigger sprint, particularly in the absence of Lorena Wiebes.

She is a favourite on practically any start line, but at the Trofeo Binda, it’s particularly hard to look past four-time winner Marianne Vos. Vos has started her road season relatively late this year after winning the cyclo-cross World Championships in January and only returned to the road for WorldTour-opener Strade Bianche, where she finished seventh. Strade Bianche is not a race Vos has ever won, so it’s hard to assess what her result there means for her form going into the weekend, but Trofeo Binda is a race that always suits her strengths. The climbs aren’t too long, there’s often a sprint to the line, and Vos will surely be motivated in search of her first road win of the year. 

Vos’ Jumbo-Visma team also have options in the form of Coryn Labecki, a new signing and another former winner in Cittiglio. Labecki was on support duties for Vos at Strade Bianche but could be a card to play for the win if the race comes down to a reduced sprint on Sunday. Labecki is a strong sprinter but has also shown her capability on tougher terrain - she’s a former Tour of Flanders winner - and could be hard to beat if she makes the final selection.

SD Worx always bring a strong team to one day races, but look to be giving some of their punchier riders a break this weekend in favour of a more climber-heavy line-up. Vollering and Kopecky are out, and it looks like Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak will be their leaders. 

One of the best climbers in the peloton, Moolman-Pasio will be hoping to make the race tough on the climbs, and should have the support of teammates Niamh Fisher-Black and Anna Shackley to execute this plan. Van den Broek-Blaak’s ability on both the hills and the sprint makes her a great option if the race comes down to a reduced sprint. 

After riding somewhat in the shadow of Lotte Kopecky so far this spring, this race could be the perfect chance for the Dutch rider to chase the win. She might struggle to sprint from a small group, but Marlen Reusser will most certainly be aggressive during the race, whether that’s making the race hard in a team role or attempting a familiar breakaway move.

Third in this race on three occasions, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) will be looking to improve those results this year off the back of fifth in Strade Bianche. Ludwig also came second to Van Vleuten on the queen stage of the Setmana Valenciana, so it looks like she has come into the new season with strong climbing legs, and will be one of the riders hoping for a more select group to contest the finish. The Dane has admitted that her sprint isn’t always the best, so she may struggle to contest the win alongside punchier riders, but should be able to follow moves on the climbs and could try her luck at a solo escape. 

After crashing at Nokere Koerse, it’s unclear whether FDJ's new signing Grace Brown will start Trofeo Binda, so Uttrup Ludwig will rely mainly on Marta Cavalli for support. Similarly, former winner Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) will be another rider hoping to make the race on the climbs instead of in a final sprint.

Team DSM’s Floortje Mackaij could be a less obvious pick for the win and may benefit from not being a marked rider on Sunday. The Dutch rider has had a strong start to the year, finishing third at both Omloop van het Hageland and Drentse Acht van Westerveld, and can also perform well on tough finishes, proven by her second place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2019. Mackaij often slots into Team DSM’s leadout train, most recently helping to deliver Lorena Wiebes to victory at Ronde van Drenthe. But with Wiebes not set to start on Saturday, Mackaij should be given more freedom to ride for herself if the race comes down to a small group and is in good form to secure a result.

A few big names are expected to miss Trofeo Binda, including Movistar’s Annemiek van Vleuten, who has said her next race will be Dwars door Vlaanderen as she builds towards the northern block of Classics. With Emma Norsgaard also expected to miss this weekend of racing, Movistar may lack what’s needed to contest for the win but it will be worth watching how the rest of the team approach a race without an obvious favourite in their ranks.

The route

The route is unchanged from 2021 and will see the peloton set out from the town of Cocquio Trevisago to complete one large loop of 71km before hitting the 17km finishing lap, to be raced four times for a total of 141.8km.

The initial loop tackles the climb through Caldana to Orino - a slight variation on the climb to Orino in the finishing lap - after just 17km, meaning the racing will be tough from the get-go. The route then takes in the short but steep ramp to Casalzuigno, which also features on the lap, before going up the longest climb of the day, a 4km slope to Cunardo. These climbs may not be where the race is won, but it can certainly be lost here if riders find themselves dropped before the laps start. A solo or small move on the climbs might struggle to go all the way with over 70km still to race, but the stronger riders and teams will look to make them hard and tire out the sprinters as early as possible.

The race hits the finishing laps by crossing the finish line in Cittiglio with 70km to go, and will almost immediately start the Casalzuigno climb, the shorter but steeper of the two hills. Less than 4km after cresting the Casalzuigno climb, the ascent to Orino begins, so there is very little respite for the riders and plenty of opportunities for both attacks and for riders to be distanced. The climbs are perfect springboards for attacks, and with them coming in such quick succession, dropped riders will find it tough to get back on and escapees could build a sizable gap in a small amount of time.

The riders will complete the final climb to Orino with just under 8km left to race. Most of the run-in is then either descending or flat - barring a gentle rise to the line - so it’s likely that whichever rider or group crests the Orino first will be who contests the finish.

The climbs of the 2022 Trofeo Binda

Caldana - 1.4km, avg. gradient 6.3%

Cunardo - 4km, avg. gradient 4.7%

Casalzuigno - 0.7km, avg. gradient 7.2% (five ascents)

Orino - 3.4km, avg. gradient 4.1% (four ascents)

What to expect

One of the draws of Trofeo Binda is just how unpredictable, and there are a lot of ways the race could play out this weekend. One thing that’s certain is that the field will be reduced over 142km of racing, but the question is by how much?

The stronger teams of Trek-Segafredo, SD Worx and Jumbo-Visma will be hoping to make the racing as hard as possible, to eliminate as many riders as possible over the undulating route. Trek-Segafredo in particular will be on the hunt for success as they hope to record their first one-day win of 2022. They’ve taken three wins already this season - stages for Ellen van Dijk and Elisa Balsamo at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, and Van Dijk won a stage and the overall at the Bloeizone Fryslân Tour - but they’ve so far missed out on the top step in the one-day Classics. With a strong team, Trek-Segafredo will try to control the racing and set it up for one of their riders. Rather than try to keep it together for a sprint, Trek may try to make the laps as hard as possible, drawing out a select group that favours the likes of Longo Borghini.

In the absence of too many top-level sprinters, and with no Annemiek van Vleuten to execute a signature long-range attack, this race is wide open and we can expect an aggressive day of racing. There will be a lot of riders hoping to force an elite selection by attacking on the climbs and it will be a battle between the climbers who can sprint, and the sprinters who can climb. Expect to see the usual protagonists of the Classics hold on into the pointy end of the race - think Kopecky, Vos, Uttrup Ludwig - with the winner being whoever can muster the fastest finish after 142km of tough racing.

Trofeo Binda 2022 teams

  • Trek-Segafredo Women
  • SD Worx
  • Canyon-Sram Racing
  • Liv Racing Xstra
  • Movistar Team Women
  • Team DSM Women
  • Jumbo-Visma Women
  • FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
  • BikeExchange-Jayco Women
  • EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
  • UAE Team ADQ
  • Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
  • Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
  • Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • Valcar-Travel & Service
  • Cofidis Women Team
  • NXTG by Experza
  • Aromitalia-Basso Bikes-Vaiano
  • BePink
  • Born to Win G20 Ambedo
  • Isolamant-Premac-Vittoria
  • Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA
  • Team Mendelspeck
  • Top Girls Fassa Bortolo

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