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While Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) streaked away from the peloton to contest for victory on the opening stage of the Tour de France Femmes, world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) found herself boxed in and only able to watch.
She finished seventh on the stage, unable to fully unleash her finishing kick, and coasted the wheels to the line in Paris.
“We tried to make a good lead out but we lost a little bit and then in the end I was completely closed,” Balsamo said after the finish.
“I tried to sprint but I was too behind and also my legs weren’t too good.”
For a rider like Balsamo – capable of performing on many different types of race – there are plenty of other opportunities to win a stage on this year’s Tour, such as tomorrow’s uphill sprint to the line in Meaux.
“I’m a little bit disappointed but this is only the first stage so we have another week to try our best,” she said.
Balsamo completed her first grand tour at the Giro Donne earlier this month where she won two stages, finished third on another, and wore the pink jersey for two days.
An impressive season for the Italian also included winning the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Classic Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem in a three-week spell in March.
As well as hunting for stage victories, Balsamo will support her teammate Elisa Longo Borghini’s GC ambitions. Trek-Segafredo has assembled a strong team around the two Italians, comprising of Ellen van Dijk, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Leah Thomas and Shirin van Anrooij.
“Of course, we have another week and we have a very strong team so we can try different scenarios,” she said. “We will fight again.”