Class and determination: Longo Borghini sprints to third at De Ronde

The Italian rider returned to the podium of the Classic that she won in 2015.

Elisa Longo Borghini loves to amaze. Her victories prove this as well as her history as an athlete. And today, that history was enriched by another important result with the Trek-Segafredo captain taking the third place at Ronde van Vlaanderen after a small bunch sprint to the line.

Longo Borghini is one of the first to admit that sprinting like that is not her strong point, not her specialty. But, with her strength and determination, nothing is impossible for her. The only riders stronger than her, in the end, were solo winner Lotte Kopecky, who finished with 36 seconds on the chasers, and her Team SD Worx teammate Demi Vollering, who was able to anticipate Longo Borghini in the sprint.

Before the final party in Oudenaarde, this year’s edition of De Ronde was an uncertain and hard-fought race. The key moment, as many expected, came on the Koppenberg, with 55km to go, when the peloton split and the gap that ultimately made the difference was opened up.

The chasers seemed to have the leaders at the end of a piece of elastic, rather than string, with the gap varying between 15, 20, and 30 seconds. But, when Kopecky eventually decided to leave the last of breakaway companions, in the dust, it looked like the elastic had finally snapped.

Longo Borghini, alongside Ronde van Vlaanderen rookie Shirin Van Anrooij – who eventually finished eighth at the finish – and Lucinda Brand did not raise the white flag and continued to do their best in what was not an easy situation with Kopecky’s teammates covering her back in the chasing group. However, Trek-Segafredo’s courage and willingness to fight was not lacking and, in the end, Longo Borghini’s podium finish is a reward for that as well.


From behind the finish line

We’ll let Elisa tell her side of the story…

“I have to be honest, I would never expect to be third in such a tough edition of De Ronde especially after the forced rest I had to face over the last month. It was a hard time. I lost almost 15 days of preparation due to Covid and when I started training again, I had 15 days without any intensity. I started the race with many question marks in my mind and I was fully committed to doing my best for Shirin, the rider who showed she had the best legs for today. That’s why, after the chaos we had on the Koppenberg, I managed to lead the chase to the front group. I didn’t have great feelings for most of the day and doing something useful was the minimum I could do.”

“In the last 10 kilometers the situation changed a lot and from Ina [Teutenberg], in the team car, I received the message to manage my remaining energy for the sprint. It was not easy in that situation, but it was a boost of confidence and then, there was work that needed to be finished off. It was also a bit weird to have someone looking out for me and setting up a sprint. Shirin was very helpful keeping the pace and putting me in the right position and I just left everything I had out on the road for a podium result.

“I had mixed feelings after the finish line because I was not sure about the result at first but this third place comes with some nice emotions and a lot of satisfaction. At the end, sprinting for road signs during my home training with my fiancée Jacopo [Mosca], might have paid off.

“It was a hard race and SD Worx made it even harder but at one point, you can’t focus too much on their jersey, if not, you don’t play your chances to win. They always show that they are strong and not just with a single rider, but that’s not a good reason to give up and let them go without fighting.

“I think we can be happy because, in the end, we did our own race, we stuck to the plan that Ina asked us to put in action and we raced to win. I really want to thank the entire team for the confidence they showed in me today, after such a difficult period. In every key moment of the race, we were in the right place and this happened only thanks to my teammates.

“Now, there’s Paris-Roubaix on the horizon and it will be another hard challenge to face but, personally, I’m starting to feel confident in my condition, maybe it’s better than I expected and there’s still a week to get ready for our trip to Hell and back. For the moment, it’s time to enjoy this unexpected podium with my Team.”