Elisa Longo Borghini’s pursuit of the 2024 Giro d’Italia Women

Elisa Longo Borghini

Elisa Longo Borghini has been a consistent figure in the 2024 Giro d’Italia Women, with her performance among the top overall riders. The five-time Italian champion will begin her 13th Giro on Sunday, aiming for her third overall podium finish. Despite many significant races ahead, the pursuit of the pink jersey remains pivotal for the 32-year-old Lidl-Trek rider, who first participated in her home Grand Tour at 19.

A decade ago, a brutal crash at the national championships in 2013 prevented her from starting the Giro. Similarly, a crash in 2023 on stage 5, where she overshot a descent while in second place, led to her first-ever DNF in the event. Despite finishing the stage, her injuries forced her to withdraw. Reflecting on this, Longo Borghini told Cyclingnews, “I feel ready, ready to start the Giro and, ready to finish it.”

Strong preparation and high hopes

Preparation for the Giro has been comprehensive, with altitude training late in May and early June, participation in the Tour de Suisse, and claiming her fifth national road title. “I think I’m in OK shape to start the Giro and to see where I’m at,” she remarked, having secured seven top 10 GC finishes, two stage wins, and two overall podium places in previous editions.

Last season posed challenges with injury and illness, but 2024 has been impressive. She has achieved a second Tour of Flanders win, victories at De Brabantse Pijl and Trofeo Oro in Euro, and podium finishes at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Vuelta Femenina, and Tour de Suisse. “It’s going to be a very tough summer,” Longo Borghini said, referring to her upcoming participation in the Giro, Olympics, and Tour de France.

This year’s Giro d’Italia Women does not feature any former winners like Annemiek van Vleuten, Marianne Vos or Anna van der Breggen (who might be back in 2025). However, the competition remains fierce. Longo Borghini acknowledged the strong field, mentioning riders such as Juliette Labous, Neve Bradbury, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Liane Lippert, Mavi Garcia and Silvia Persico. “This is not going to be an easy stage race,” she stated.

The race covers eight stages and 876.7km, starting with a time trial and a stage for sprinters before heading into the hills. The course includes challenging ascents, particularly the dual Blockhaus climb on the queen stage. “This year’s course…gives no moments to relax,” Longo Borghini noted, indicating the demanding nature of the parcours.

Lidl-Trek’s strong lineup

Longo Borghini’s Lidl-Trek team includes experienced riders and young talent. Fellow Lidl-Trek riders Lucinda Brand, Lizzie Deignan, Lauretta Hanson, Brodie Chapman, Elisa Balsamo, and Gaia Realini form a robust support system. Last year, after Longo Borghini’s crash, Realini continued the charge for the team, securing a podium finish and winning the youth classification.

The team’s head director, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, brings significant race experience, having lined up in six editions and won 13 stages. With such a formidable team, Longo Borghini remains hopeful for a stage win or a podium place in the general classification. “If I have the privilege to do the GC, a podium place would be a great thing,” she said. And while she may not have explicitly stated it, the dream of donning the pink jersey undoubtedly remains.

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