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Elisa Longo Borghini hits back for Trek-Segafredo ahead of cobbled classics

Trek-Segafredo delivers timely reposte to SD Worx dominance ahead of prestigious northern classics.

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Two weeks after being “worxed over” by an SD Worx full press at Strade Bianche, Elisa Longo Borghini and Trek-Segafredo hit back with a stunning riposte this weekend.

The American squad turned the tables on SD Worx at Sunday’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda, positioning Longo Borghini for a triumphant solo win on home roads. Meanwhile, the Dutch team had a day to forget, failing to position a single rider in the top-10 in a rare speed bump in their otherwise red-hot start to the 2021 season.

Race report: Elisa Longo Borghini unstoppable on home roads

“We were not on track at all,” SD Worx director Danny Stam said Sunday. “There are no excuses. After the good training camps and all those strong competitions in recent weeks, the condition cannot be bad. That’s why we shouldn’t dwell too long on this classic.”

After Anna van der Breggen and her wrecking crew had steamrolled through the start of the season, Longo Borghini’s squad replied in kind at Binda. The Italian’s win was one of both solo strength and team triumph that levels the playing field between the two powerhouses of the women’s WorldTour, just as the prestigious cobblestone classics and first-ever women’s Paris-Roubaix loom into view.

“For me, arriving solo is the only chance to win Binda, but it didn’t matter if it was me, or Lizzie [Deignan] or someone else because we are a united team, and whoever wins, it’s fine,” Longo Borghini said after the Italian classic. “In the end, my victory was just the cherry on the cake, it was really a team victory because my teammates did a really, really good job.”

https://twitter.com/wcsbike/status/1373649830942277635

After a flurry of attacks by teammates Tayler Wiles, Ruth Winder and Audrey Cordon Ragot, the Italian champ punched clear with some 25 kilometers to go, fending off a five-strong chase group motored by Marianne Vos and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. And – do not adjust your sets – there were no SD Worx jerseys in the pursuit. Having split its attention between Binda and Sunday’s Omloop van de Westhoek, four of the Dutch unit were laboring in the peloton as Trek-Segafredo sprint threat Lizzie Deignan took a free ride toward any possible fast finale.

“It was planned that I would attack the second-to-last lap and spare Lizzie for the finale because she’s the fastest,” Longo Borghini said. “I knew this would be a good move for Lizzie if I could make the others suffer if it would be a sprint finish. If they would have caught me, I would have just gone again.”

Setting the tone ahead of the stones

Trek-Segafredo brought the full-team tactic to Alfredo Binda.

The start of this season was in many ways a blur of purple and red.

SD Worx flooded the front group to send Anna van der Breggen to glory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and a week later, won Strade Bianche with Chantaal van den Broek-Blaak after maneuvering Longo Borghini into checkmate on the roads into Siena. Trek-Segafredo was squashed underfoot as many riders started the season undercooked or ill.

Also read: Inside SD Worx’s tactical masterclass at Strade Bianche

“They are super strong already. All the team [SD Worx] is in a really good shape,” team director Giorgia Bronizini told VeloNews ahead of Strade Bianche. “But we’ve started a bit slower.”

Trek-Segafredo has big ambitions on the cobbles this year, and Deignan, Longo Borghini and Co. have hit their collective stride right ahead of three WorldTour classics in the seven days.

Deignan has the lofty ambition of making history by becoming the first woman to win in the Roubaix velodrome before taking her second rainbow jersey at the Flanders world championships. Both her and Longo Borghini are eyeing a second Tour of Flanders title, which last year was won by van den Broek Blaak after a teamwork masterclass from SD Worx.

Also read: Lizzie Deignan aims to crush the cobblestones in 2021

Just 24 hours before Longo Borghi won in Cittiglio, Jasper Stuyen scored his first monument at Milano-Sanremo with an “all-or-nothing” attack that upset the applecart and surprised top-tier favorites Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel. Longo Borghini said she had taken a leaf out of Stuyven’s notebook ahead of Binda. Matteo Moschetti rounded out the team’s weekend sweep with victory in the new Per Sempre Alfredo men’s race Sunday.

“It’s all or nothing. Jasper inspired me yesterday with that, so I also thought about ‘it’s all or nothing,’” she said. “Sometimes you have to play poker. If there’s an option to attack, I will always choose to attack.”

Trek-Segafredo’s men’s and women’s teams gambled and took it “all” this weekend. The next month of northern classics may not be the SD Worx and “Mathieu van der Wout” show after all.