The Giro Donne starts today. Here are our key riders' thoughts on the Italian race.
Elisa Longo Borghini
I’m here at the Giro to leave a mark on it. That’s my aim and, also, the aim of Lidl-Trek. We have a strong team and we’re really motivated to show it. I think we can be really competitive both in stage hunting and having a look to the GC. This year, I’m approaching the Giro without the GC at the top of my wish list. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m here on holiday, but I do feel that I can live the race day by day, step by step, looking for stages first of all and seeing how the GC battle will play out. I’m prepared for the race and I’m sure I’ll soon reach the top of my condition.
The fact I’m not prioritizing GC among my goals doesn’t mean I don’t care about the Giro. On the contrary, I really look forward to starting and showing my hunger for victories. Let’s not forget how tough the Giro will be this year. It’s all ups and downs and I expect a very open and unpredictable race.
I also think that as Lidl-Trek we have very good options with the likes of Shirin Van Anrooij and Gaia Realini, who can have ambitions for the final classification. Shirin already won the white jersey last year at the Tour de France, Gaia is one of the best gutsy climbers in the world. They’re young, but they deserve a chance to approach the race with this goal and we need to support them. Teamwork is also one of the key qualities of our Team and, for our GC ambition, it could work well to beat the competition.
For me, the Giro is always my home race, the one I maybe have the strongest feelings towards, especially with the Tricolore jersey on my shoulders which gives a huge boost of confidence to do my best. Even if the Tour de France has become “the” event among the stage races and La Vuelta also stepped as a key event in the season, I really hope the Giro can keep its status in future.
On my returning to competition journey, which started at the end of April, the Giro will be an important step in my growth. From the Ardennes Classics onwards, every race day has been a step forward. It’s not easy, let’s be clear, because you need patience and sacrifice to find your best condition, but every race has been better. At the Giro I’m counting on having more positive feedback and being an animator of the race.
I feel a responsibility to be useful to the team, to play a supporting and guiding role, especially for the younger riders, and at the same time to aim for results. I want to be a solid member of Lidl-Trek, this is what the team wants from me, and I approach each stage with a very open mind instead of focusing on a few days or specific goals. I know what I have in my legs and what my motivation is. As a Team, we’re strong and we always play to win. That was always our approach. We have an aggressive style and a unique way of working together.
The Giro introduces one of the most important periods in the season of my comeback. There’s the Tour de France on the horizon and then the Worlds. I really want to show I’m still one of the strongest riders in UK, also keeping an eye on the 2024 Olympic Games.
Shirin Van Anrooij
The Giro is a big chance to continue my growth, gaining experience through a challenging and hard competition. After the Tour de France last year, this is my second experience in a long stagea race. It’s a benchmark to prove myself as a GC rider, without feeling the pressure to win at any cost. Being part of a strong team is, for sure, a key factor in my approach to the race. We have many cards to play everyday and even for the GC battle, we have different options to play. I feel it’s definitely an advantage.
Of course, I’m an ambitious rider, I like to win and to get results, but my focus here will be mainly to feel good on the bike, to prove myself by doing the best I can and learning how to manage the efforts in a long stage race. I feel I still have a lot to learn to achieve the dream and the goals I have in mind for the coming years. At my side I have experienced champions I can learn from.
About the route, I studied the stages as much as possible. It was homework that Ina [Teutenberg, Sports Director] gave to me last week. My conclusion is that there are no easy days, even if some of them may look like that from outside. I think every stage has hidden dangers. Every day something can happen and we always have to be at a top level to face this competition. Stage 5 is definitely the hardest one, with hard climbs and technical descents. I expect a really exciting race.
The Giro has always been the race of my heart, the stage that allowed me to be under the spotlight and to get where I am now. Talking about ambitions and goals for me is not easy. From the beginning of the season, many things have changed in my life. I know the perception of me from the outside has changed after my performances and results. But I have my feet firmly planted on the ground. I’m glad to receive compliments, of course, but yielding to expectations or pressure is a mistake I don’t want to make.
For this Giro, the Team wants me to approach it as a step in my growth and I fully agree. I feel I have lots to learn still, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be competitive on my own terrain, the climbs. As it has been until now, I want to give it my all and see how far I can go. And when I am asked to help or to work for a teammate, I will be the first to do so.