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Vittoria Guazzini was one of the major presences on the front of the peloton throughout the 2022 season.
The FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope rider stepped into the WorldTour for the first time this season, but she hardly missed a beat, and she became one of her team’s most important support riders, especially when it came to big stage races.
One of Guazzini’s biggest contributions came at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift where she helped two of her teammates into the top 10 overall as well as Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig’s stage win, using the big engine that she has developed through her years of track riding and time trialing.
“My teammates are happy to race with me because when I have to help by never hold anything back. Like I go full gas until the work is done,” Guazzini told VeloNews. “I know that in some races this is my job. I’m very happy to do it. I’m very committed to what I have to do and everyone in the team is, so we really work hard together. I also like the team wins, as it happened in the Tour, we are always there to cheer on each other.”
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Guazzini is more than a helper within her team, and she had her own personal success throughout the season. She took a comfortable overall victory at the Bretagne Ladies Tour in May, and in June she claimed the time trial at the Mediterranean Games.
She then ended the season with a bang by taking the first-ever U23 world time trial title and then claimed an elite world title in the team pursuit.
“I’m very satisfied with my season. Now that I have some time to think about it better because when you’re racing, you’re always going from one place to another, now I’m realizing that it was a very good season for me, especially the last month with the world championships on the road and on track,” she said.
“If someone told me this at the beginning of the season, maybe I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s a very good thing and I hope in the future, I can have more.”
Guazzini stepped up to the WorldTour with plenty of promise, having won multiple junior national titles, as well as junior and U23 European titles in the time trial. However, her switch to FDJ got off to a trickier start than she had hoped after she crashed and injured her ankle in the final race of the 2021 season at Paris-Roubaix.
She had to undergo surgery on her ankle and spend some time off the bike before she could ride with her teammates for the first time. It was a tentative start with the team, but it ultimately turned out to be a relationship that would bear plenty of fruit.
“I came from last winter with the injury so, I was also a bit scared because it’s not the best way to introduce yourself in the new team. But they gave me my time to recover and to heal completely and then start training for the season,” Guazzini said.
“With my time trial, I really did a big step forward. I have always liked time trials but this year we worked a lot with the TT bikes with specific kinds of efforts, and also the position and everything. This is a big step for me and also in the road race. I could do a lot of good races like the Tour de France, and this will help me also in the next years.”
Dreaming of the classics and Olympic gold
Guazzini is dealing with the recovery from another surgery after she had the plates removed from her ankle last month. She’s hoping that the recovery won’t be as arduous as it was 12 months ago and has begun training again now that her stitches have been removed.
With one very successful season at WorldTour level now under her belt, she’s beginning to eye up some other big goals, including one day winning a major spring classic.
“My dream is one day to win Ronde van Vlaanderen so yeah, maybe one day I will do it,” she told VeloNews. “The classics for sure are the thing that suits me better. When I was younger, I watched all the classics every year with my dad and I was dreaming to be there one day. Now this dream has already come true because I’ve raced a lot of classics. But to win is another thing so, hopefully, one day I will win Flanders.”
The jury is out on the other major cobbled monument after her crash at last year’s Paris-Roubaix, which was affected by mud and rain. With some track racing to do and a little bit of fear following her fall, it was decided that she should skip the cobbled classics this year.
With the power she has at her disposal, she seems like a prime candidate for a race like Roubaix but she’s not sure yet if she wants to go back.
“I still had a bit of a shock [in April] from that race, but I watched it on the television and it was like a different race,” she said. “Last year, when I was racing, it was just about going inside a cobbled sector and making it out alive. This year, you could see there was a tactic and there was more sense to the race.
“Maybe I could go back and win, but I didn’t know. Before the race, everyone told me that it is the kind of race that could be good for me because it’s flat, you have to push and, and all these things. But you need a lot of luck also.”
Guazzini’s goals are not restricted to the road or the cobbles, but she retains ambitions for the velodrome boards, too. While her teammate Marta Cavalli decided to ditch the track to focus entirely on her road targets, Guazzini has been balancing the two.
However, that task is becoming increasingly hard, especially with the multi-discipline world championships in Glasgow next year.
“I think it won’t be easy because the world championship in Glasgow will be more or less at the same time. So it would be hard to balance everything, but I haven’t talked about this yet with my coach and team,” she said.
“I think we will find a way, as we always do, to balance and do a bit of both and, hopefully, to have results in other disciplines. But for sure, I think that it’s not the best for riders who do track and road, and maybe someone who does mountain bike and everything. It’s a bit complicated to fit everything in 10 days.”
The world championships will be something of a testing ground for Guazzini as she hopes to bring her dualling ambitions all the way into the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“The big goal for me with the national team is the team pursuit at the Olympics because we’ve been working together since we were juniors,” Guazzini said. “This is a dream that is growing up with us and we will do our best to achieve our dreams. But for sure, also the time trial will be another goal for me. First I need to be selected and then if I will be selected, I will try to do my best also in the time trial.”