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Trofeo Alfredo Binda: 10 riders to watch

Will this year's Trofeo Alfredo Binda end in a breakaway or a bunch sprint? From climbers to sprinters, here are some of the riders to watch in the third Women's WorldTour race of the year.

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Look through the history books and you’ll see that Trofeo Alfredo Binda is a race that can end in all manner of ways.

The four laps of a finishing circuit that contains two sharp climbs on each passing makes for a race that is difficult for the sprinters, but not necessarily one for the pure climbers.

Also read: Trofeo Alfredo Binda preview: Elisa Longo Borghini aims for title defense, Marianne Vos targets record fifth win

Last year saw Elisa Longo Borghini romp away for a huge solo win after she attacked on the penultimate lap. However, Marianne Vos won from a reduced bunch sprint in the previous edition in 2019 — the 2020 race was canceled due to COVID-19.

All that means is that the race is open and difficult to predict. These are 10 riders who could be in contention for victory this Sunday.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)

Elisa Longo Borghini has won this race twice and both times she has done it in dramatic fashion with winning margins of close to two minutes. Last year, nobody could hold onto the Italian champion when she stormed away on the penultimate lap of the finishing circuit.

Longo Borghini is the home hero here, not just because she wears the Italian tricolore on her back for the second year in a row but her hometown is on the other side of Lake Maggiore to the host town of Cittiglio.

Last season she came into the race on flying form after a second-place at Strade Bianche. The start to this year has been a little bit quieter for Longo Borghini, with eighth at Strade earlier this month, but she’s still going very well and will be tough to beat.

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma)

Marianne Vos won her fourth Trofeo Alfredo Binda in 2019
Marianne Vos won her fourth Trofeo Alfredo Binda in 2019 (Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images)

Marianne Vos has a chance to make history at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda this Sunday. She is currently equal on victories with Italian sporting great Maria Canins with four Binda titles each. If she can come out on top at the weekend, she will once again stand head and shoulders above the rest with a record-breaking fifth win.

Vos has only had one race day on the road so far this season after taking a break following another record-breaking performance in cyclocross as she claimed her eighth world title. She made her road debut at Strade Bianche, finishing a solid seventh place after a comparatively quiet race by her standards.

Vos could go on the attack to try and win solo, but she will be tough to beat if it comes down to a bunch finish of whatever size.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope)

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig had a breakthrough last season with her first-ever WorldTour win when she took a stage of the Vuelta a Burgos and she’ll want another one soon enough. Uttrup Ludwig has finished on the podium three times in the last four years, so this race clearly suits her.

The Dane’s aggressive style of racing works well on a course that requires riders to react quickly. For a climber, she has a fairly fast finish and would be a favorite from many breakaway groups — provided it doesn’t include someone like Marianne Vos.

Uttrup Ludwig has been very consistent so far this season with a series of strong placings at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in February to finish second overall behind Annemiek van Vleuten. She was just missing something to challenge the podium at Strade Bianche, but her fifth place shows that she’s in good form.

Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma)

Coryn Labecki is another former winner at Binda that will be lining up this weekend. Labecki won the race back in 2017 when she was racing her first full season in Europe with the DSM team. She has not ridden the race since 2019, when she finished eighth.

Labecki left DSM last season and is now racing at Jumbo-Visma, alongside Marianne Vos. It will be interesting to see how the two riders work together. They have very similar skillsets, though Vos is probably better at climbing than Labecki, and they can play off one another knowing that they both have strong sprints.

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx)

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak helped Lotte Kopecky win Strade Bianche
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak helped Lotte Kopecky win Strade Bianche (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

The Trofeo Alfredo Binda is a rare race that the current crop of SD Worx riders has not won in the past, but the team will have a formidable line-up Sunday that will try to pile the pressure on the peloton. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak is one of the riders that could convert that pressure into a victory in Cittiglio.

Van den Broek-Blaak has finished on the podium in the past, finishing second to Kasia Niewiadoma in 2018 after outsprinting Marianne Vos in a chasing group. She has the power and the speed to win in a number of scenarios.

In her opening three race days, van den Broek-Blaak has largely played a support role for her teammates — she was a key part in Lotte Kopecky’s Strade Bianche win — and she will get the opportunity to have a go for her own success and this weekend could be it.

Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo)

Elisa Balsamo has said she believes that the finishing circuit at Binda is too difficult for her to consider taking victory, but it would be silly to count her out of the list of contenders. Indeed, she has some good results at the race, finishing 11th in 2018 and seventh last season.

The relentless climbing on the Cittiglio circuit will be difficult for Balsamo but she showed in the opening stage in Valencia that she can hold on over tough climbs. The terrain is slightly different, but she’s certainly going well.

In the past, Balsamo has been largely working for herself, but she comes to Binda with a strong Trek-Segafredo team around her. With Elisa Longo Borghini there as defending champion, the pressure will be less on Balsamo, which could ultimately help her.

Marlen Reusser (SD Worx)

Marlen Reusser is a bit of a wildcard in this list of riders, but that is why she is one to watch. She made her debut at the race last season and finished 27th but this year she will be at the race as part of a strong SD Worx team.

Reusser has already demonstrated that she’s not afraid to go all out on the attack in the service of her team. Who knows, maybe one of those attacks will go all the way. With her time trialing skills, she can be difficult to catch when she’s up to speed.

Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM)

Kasia Niewiadoma at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Kasia Niewiadoma caught COVID-19 last week (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Kasia Niewiadoma is a doubt for Trofeo Alfredo Binda after she tested positive for COVID-19 late last week. She has not been ruled out of the race just yet and the Polish rider will hope that the virus hasn’t taken too much out of her by the weekend.

If Niewiadoma is cleared to race, she’ll be one to watch, whether it is to see how she’s recovered or how she can impact the race. She took inspiration from Vincenzo Nibali’s 2018 Milan-San Remo-winning attack to have a go herself the following day. Niewiadoma stormed clear on the final climb to win by 23 seconds over a group of chasers.

Arlenis Sierra (Movistar)

Arlenis Sierra has had to wait a long time for her Movistar debut, but she should finally be able to make it this weekend in Italy. With no Annemiek van Vleuten or Emma Norsgaard, Sierra will be one of the the team’s leaders at the race.

Sierra came close to victory at Binda in 2017, only to be pipped to the line by Coryn Labecki. She hasn’t returned to those heady heights since, but she will be hoping her fortunes can change with her new team.

With no racing in her legs yet, it’s hard to say how she is going but she definitely has the qualities to be at the pointy end.

Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM)

With Kasia Niewiadoma a doubt for Sunday, Canyon-SRAM may have to look elsewhere for its result. Italian rider Soraya Paladin may be the person the team looks to if Niewiadoma is absent or missing the level she needs.

Paladin moved over to the Canyon-SRAM team over the winter after two years with Liv Racing. She might not be a household name in the bunch but she’s a strong rider with solid results over the years and she’s got this season off to a strong start with some top 10 finishes. She also finished 19th at Strade Bianche, ahead of some decent competition.

Paladin has a good record at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and finished fifth last year in the sprint behind Elisa Longo Borghini.