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RideLondon Classique: Elisa Balsamo ‘happy’ with second after break from racing

World champion beaten by Laura Wiebes in first race since Paris-Roubaix.

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MALDON, England (VN) — After not racing for more than a month, Elisa Balsamo (Trek Segafredo) said she was “happy with her sprint” after taking second on the first stage of the RideLondon Classique.

Balsamo, a winner of three WorldTour races so far in 2022, was beaten by longtime rival Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) but was positive about the result.

“It was a hard final,” Balsamo said. “It’s my first race after a small break, so I need some kilometers to put in my legs, but it’s a good point to restart.”

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No breakaway went in the early part of the stage, but the sprinters’ teams had a hard job in the closing circuits as Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) escaped and at one point had a lead of over a minute and a half.

“We started slowly in the first part, but when we entered the final circuit, we went full gas,” Balsamo said.

“We did a good race, my teammates did a great job to close to the breakaway and also in the last kilometer. Then it was a very hard sprint. I’m here also to find some good feelings after my break and so for me, a second place is good.”

Balsamo’s last race was Paris-Roubaix Femmes in April, where she was disqualified for a sticky bottle. She has not raced on the road since then, but has continued training on the track with the Italian national squad.

“I had a week break [after Roubaix], and then I restarted with the track, and this one is my first road race, and so I need some more kilometers in my legs.”

Balsamo admitted she doesn’t know whether she will be thinking about the general classification or purely stage wins in the remaining two stages, but also said collecting intermediate sprint points — and bonus seconds — was in Trek-Segafredo’s plans for the day.

“We wanted to try to make the [intermediate] points sprints, and then of course the final sprint,” she said. “It was a nice day with a lot of people on the road, it was up and down, but my teammates did a great job.”

Balsamo currently sits five seconds down on overall leader Wiebes, with another sprint expected tomorrow.

“Tomorrow is going to be a hard one. I want to rest this afternoon and then we will see.”