Balsamo crowns a super team effort by winning Stage 1 at Setmana Valenciana

For the third consecutive year, the Italian sprinter celebrated her season debut with a success in the Spanish race.

Three components make today’s victory of Elisa Balsamo at the Setmana Valenciana special. First the destiny, because from the moment she has started to ride her Trek Madone, Elisa made her debut in the Spanish race and immediately left her mark. Then, the way in which she did it, because today’s finale left everyone in suspence until the very end. Last but not least, the test of strength and character of the former World Champion and her teammates.

The sprint! Elisa won it ahead of Marianne Vos and Noemi Ruegg (@GettyImages)

On the finish line in Gandia, in a rider vs. rider challenge, Balsamo today was the fastest and the strongest, an adjective that deserves to be shared with all her teammates. Right up to the last kilometer, in fact, Frenchwomen Berteau (Cofidis) was set to take solo victory after a 60km breakaway, but the fundamental contribution of Lidl-Trek in catching her changed the outcome.

Until the flamme rouge, the script of the race had been a long and, at times, uncertain chase. The last second-category KOM (Alto de Barx), at 14km to go before the descent to Gandia seemed to be the perfect springboard for Berteau. The French rider deserves kudos for her tenacity, but the same can be said of Balsamo & Co. The victory in the sprint thus crowned a great team sprint, the trademark of many victories achieved by this group in recent years.

The team who lead Elisa to her first win in 2024 (©GettyImages)

Elisa's reaction

First of all, I want to share the credit, the joy and the compliments for this victory with the whole Team. Without the commitment and the trust of my teammates, I would never have been able to raise my arms to the sky first today. It was a real team effort, it was a real team win: thank you so much!

We knew the course and expected a tough stage. The last KOM, 14km from the finish, opened up the race to multiple scenarios. It was a super hectic finish. Bertau was really going strong, the peloton had the merit of believing until the end. The final sprint was a direct confrontation between sprinters, because all the teams had worked to close the gap and there were no real lead out to manage. I chose to follow the wheel of Marianne Vos, who for me remains the best in this type of situation. I make no secret of the fact that I was afraid of getting caught in the sprint traffic, but I knew I had to follow her: my instincts rewarded me.

Clearly it’s a great satisfaction to start the season like this. Winning in the first race of the year gives an important boost of confidence and something that has been repeated for three years now. But for me today it also matters a lot how the win came, the performance behind it. It’s confirmation that the work done was good. Let’s continue so!

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