Precision is the keyword for Elisa Longo Borghini in 2022.
The double Italian champion, who rides for Trek-Segafredo, is known for her blasting attacks in races, following her gut — and her heart — in the heat of competition. But she wants to channel a different side of herself this season as she aims for bigger and better things.
Her gut-led approach to racing is in stark contrast to the more pensive Longo Borghini away from the peloton. While she won’t rein it in completely, she wants to focus her power in a more precise way over the coming year.
“I’ve been aggressive and I’ve always been achieving good results, but sometimes I would like to switch those good results into a victory,” Longo Borghini told VeloNews in a call last week. “I need to be clever for this. I need to use a little bit more my brain, which is a little bit strange for me because in normal life I’m kind of reflective.
“In normal life, I think a lot. Maybe I need to calculate my attacks a little bit more, or they need to be more like a surgeon.”
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Longo Borghini’s aggressive style of racing did reap some reward in 2021 with victories at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda — which takes place on the opposite side of Lake Maggiore to her hometown of Ornavasso — and the GP de Plouay. She also won the Italian national road race and time trial as well as the European Mixed Relay title with the Italian national team.
She wants more this year, and she has some big plans laid out for what it is set to be a big year for the women’s peloton. Her season will start this week at the Setmana Valenciana-VCV Fémines and her first major goal will be the Ardennes classics in April.
This summer, Longo Borghini has plans to race both the Giro d’Italia Donne and the revived Tour de France Femmes. She’s gunning for yellow in France, but she’s not consigning the Giro to a training ride and wants to come out of that with at least a stage victory.
“I just set my bar a little bit higher than last year, because last year, I won two WorldTour races. I would like to go away with three so you know, and it would be nice to be ready for both the Giro and the Tour,” she said. “So far, I have only heard people that are willing to win the Giro or the Tour, but I don’t like to follow the crowd.”
The Tour de France Femmes is one of several big additions to the calendar in recent years. Last season, Longo Borghini finished third in the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes as her teammate Lizzie Deignan completed a solo epic for victory.
With a taste for these recent inclusions, Longo Borghini would like to see some Italian monuments on the calendar.
“I’m very happy that it’s back,” Longo Borghini said of the Tour de France Femmes. “It’s going to be a really big race and it will give a lot of exposure to women’s cycling. What I would like to see in the future is a Milan-San Remo and an Il Lombardia for the women.”
Time to think about the Tour de France Femmes
The return of the Tour de France Femmes more than 30 years after the last “official” version was held in the mid-’80s is taking up much of the discourse around this season. With an opportunity to make some history, it has also become the main focus for most riders in the peloton.
As a former winner of Strade Bianche, Longo Borghini is looking forward to the gravel stage between Tores and Bar-Sure-Aube on stage 4. However, she hasn’t thought about it too much more than that.
There’ll be time for thinking.
“I think I really like the gravel stage, but if I can be honest, I didn’t look at the stages,” she told VeloNews. “I’m very sorry, but it’s a race that is in July. People are already thinking about it like it’s tomorrow. Tomorrow going out on my bike, and I’m training. I’m not thinking about the Tour de France. I’m not able to do so many long-term plans, please. We have time.”
For Longo Borghini, there’s no sense in thinking too hard about the Tour de France with so much racing to happen before then. While it’s one of the big goals of her season, she has other ambitions and she’ll make her preparations for the Tour when the time comes.
Like racing a grand tour, looking too far into the future can be detrimental.
“For me, it’s a big goal but I need to think about it at the right time,” she said. “At the moment, I’m thinking about Valenciana, I’m thinking about the first part of the season. Then I will have a break, and then I will start thinking about the next part of the race of the racing season. If I take it as a whole then it’s too much, I need to go step by step. There is always room for everything so there will be also time for thinking about the Tour de France.”