When a win would mean the world, runner-up is still special

Elisa Longo Borghini gives everything in a second-place finish in Strade Bianche

Over Italy’s beautiful iconic white roads, Elisa Longo Borghini did not hold anything back. Strade Bianche is always a thrilling spectacle and for the women also the first WorldTour race of 2021. Plus, it’s a race in Elisa’s home country.  To win the epic Classic in the tri-color National jersey would be a dream come true.

In the finale of Strade Bianche,  Elisa had determination, and a strong teammate in Ellen van Dijk, and often that’s enough.

However, this time Chantal van den Broek-Blaak had great legs, and not one but two SD Worx teammates – and one was World Champion Anna Van der Breggen.

In a high-octane finale of the 136-kilometer race, Longo-Borghini had to follow the critical accelerations if she wanted to stay in the game.  And she did.

When Van den Broek-Blaak attacked (yet again) with five kilometers remaining, Longo-Borghini reacted (yet again). This time, the gap would not be closed and the two rode away to a duel on the steep finish into the center of Siena.

On paper, Elisa had the advantage up the steep climb to the line. But Van den Broek-Blaak could risk not sharing the work to stay ahead of the chasers with Van der Breggen not far behind. A nudge from Elisa was unresponsive  – Van den Broek-Blaak was not taking any lure and remained in the slipstream.

“I was not frustrated or irritated. I just want to try to get her to go, and sometimes you have to try and get the other one to work,” answered Longo Borghini when asked about Van den Broek-Blaak sitting on.  “I absolutely knew that she would not work with me as normally I drop Chantel on a climb like this. Of course, today, she had something more in the legs in the finale compared to me.”

With 500 meters to go, Elisa no longer had the strength to follow, and Van den Broek-Blaak took a massive, and somewhat, unexpected win.

“When I saw Chantel with me, I knew that she would have the better chance to win the race, but I still believed in it. In the end, she had better legs than me, and chapeau to her for the victory because it’s an important one and a special one.  Arriving in Piazza del Campo di Siena is just beautiful and a win to enjoy,” said Longo-Borghini gracefully.

Fortunately, Elisa still had enough to hold off the fast-approaching Van der Breggen and take a well-earned – and always special – podium in Strade Bianche.  Second is darn impressive, especially in one’s home country.


“I’m pretty satisfied with my 2nd place. I really want to thank my team, Trek-Segafredo, which is always supporting me the best, and the Polizia for their support for five years,” added Elisa.

She had given everything. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, and for Elisa, she will always choose try.