‘This second place means a lot’ says Elisa Balsamo after her teammates unselfish work
It took all the power of Ellen van Dijk to help contain a late attack and a fantastic lead-out from Chloe Hosking to give Elisa Balsamo a podium with second place in Ronde van Drenthe, the second round in the WorldTour.
While the win would have been the just reward for the work from the Trek-Segafredo squad, it is hard to beat Lorena Wiebes, who showed again why she is the best in sprints, at least for the moment.
“Today, the Team did a great job; they were amazing,” said Elisa. “We were working from the first kilometer and tried to break things apart in the wind.
“Then, in the end, my teammates did a very good job preparing for the sprint, and it was a great lead-out from Chloe. I did my best to finalize, but Lorena Wiebes was definitely stronger. We always want to win, but this 2nd place means a lot.”
With a committed Trek-Segafredo team leading the way, Elisa Balsamo was in good hands all race. It came down to the most significant obstacle, the man-made VAM-Berg climb on the final lap, and with Ellen’s help, she crested the cobbled uphill in the front group of 10.
Although the bunch split over the tricky ascent, the gaps were small, and it was not long before everything regrouped.
Then, in an exposed crosswind section, four riders attacked off the front. The race was far from over. With 10 kilometers to go, a furious pursuit ensued.
The strong quartet built a lead of 19 seconds and stubbornly held a slight gap right to the final kilometer. Then Ellen came to the fore for the last time.
She emptied her tank, not quite able to catch them back, but pulling them close. It was enough. The bunch overtook the four with hundreds of meters to go.
In a show of what makes Trek-Segafredo so special, sprinter Hosking gave a perfect lead-out to her teammate, sacrificing her own chance. Only the unstoppable Lorena Wiebes thwarted her effort and victory for the Team.
“I think Elisa did a great job, and it’s just super nice to ride with a team that is 100% committed to the team goal,” said Van Dijk, praising the team’s effort. “It was just a very good day of teamwork, we didn’t get the win, but it was still satisfying.”
She continued: “We had Elynor and Lauretta riding the front the whole day, which was so good, and the entire team could stay out of trouble in all the cobbled sections. We even tried to do an echelon, but the wind was not strong enough. We were always very well in control.
“On the VAM-berg, most of the time we were in the front, it was a little bit harder to stay on top of things, but in the end, we were there. Then we pulled back the last break for the sprint. It all worked well, but somebody was better in the sprint, which is how it goes sometimes.”