After the victory at the GP Oetingen, one of the most intense and eventful periods of the entire season began for me!
I took place at the Binda Trophy in Cittiglio, racing in Italy brings always a lot of emotions even if this year there was no public. As it is the closest race to home in the entire calendar, usually my whole family comes to see me and cheer for me, but unfortunately it was not the case this year and I am sorry because the race went very well! I started with the awareness that the race was a bit too hard for my characteristics and especially for the type of training I am facing this year (very focused on the track), but the sensations were good and I held out until the last GPM of the day, the victory went to a very strong Elisa Longoborghini who, with a solo action, left behind a small group of five athletes. I won the sprint of the chasing group taking home an excellent senveth place. A placement above my expectations and above all a growing condition for the legendary NORTH COUNTRYSIDE!
On Tuesday we packed our bags and took a flight to Brussels to face what, in my opinion, are the most beautiful and prestigious races of the whole year: Brugge-De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders.
The first apparently might seem the simplest: completely flat and without cobblestones, BUT … the wind was very strong, the gusts reached more than 45 km / h and although there was not even a meter of ascent, about 40km from the finish the race exploded! The strongest teams opened their echelons and although the road was totally flat, I guarantee you my legs were about to explode! We were only twelve in the front of the race, unfortunately I was left without teammates and I had to remain passive after the great attack of Grace Brown who managed to reach the finish line with seven seconds on us. During the sprint I remained closed and I was unable to express myself at my best, I am sorry I was not able to get on the podium because I really cared a lot about this race and after the finish line the disappointment was great.
Fortunately, only three days later the Gent-Wevelgen was waiting for me: the first cobblestones, the first walls and … obviously the wind that made the race tough from the first kilometers. The race was decided on the second passage on the Kemmelberg, a cobblestone wall with significant slopes, with about forty kilometers to go to the finish. Having overcome that crucial point, I believed that the flat stretch that separated us from the finish line would be simple instead … so many echelons. I wasted a lot of energy to be able to stay in front, just twenty kilometers from the finish we were eight and Vittoria Guazzini was with me. Than the situation changed and the group had to chase two fugitives who were taken just a few hundred meters from the finish, thanks also to the great work of my teammate Vittoria. My energies were almost exhausted and in the sprint I managed to take home only a fourth place.
Sunday was the turn of the Tour of Flanders. After two years of bid bad luck, due to two crashes I could not take the start either in 2019 than in 2020, I was finally able to participate in this legendary competition! I think it was one of the hardest days of my entire cycling career, I suffered and resisted to bring home the best result possible and I got an excellent fifteenth place that I am satisfied with! Every year I feel more and more comfortable on the cobbles and on the walls. On the Paterberg (the last wall of the day with high slopes) I had no more energies to be able to keep my eyes open and I had to close them for a few instant … in these days of pure suffering it happens to wonder what unhealthy idea I had that day when I decided to ride a bicycle, then the dream of being able to cross THAT finish line one day with raised arms reminds me why I chose this sport.
Wednesday I did the last race of this first part of classics: the first edition of the Schelderprijs Women, which is defined as the fastest classic of Flanders because it is totally flat. For several years this classic has been part of the male calendar and I am immensely happy that the organizers have decided to organize the competition for us girls too, this testifies that our world is growing rapidly and that our calendar is also rich and prestigious! The weather conditions were extreme: very cold temperature, just over zero degrees, and I did the race with a lot of clothes on, I had never started with leggings! The streets were wet and occasionally a few drops of rain fell. At the beginning the wind was very strong and the usual echelons were opened, but in the end the group was compact at the finish. Unfortunately, about ten kilometers from the finish, I had a contact with another athlete and by crawling my left shoe on the ground so as not to fall I ruined it. I lost a lot of time and I didn’t think I would be able to get back into the group, but thanks to the work of my teammates I reached the group and was able to participate in the sprint, taking home a good third place. I did not interpret the sprint completely correctly because I tried to pass to the left while the best trajectory was to the right and for this I was penalized but … in the sprints it is a matter of moments and it is not always easy to make the right decision.
I conclude this block of appointments aware of the gradual improvements that I am having every year and satisfied with my performances, even if there remains a bit of disappointment for having touched two podiums in super important races and not being able to get there.
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