Elisa’s blog – A July on fire

“Luglio col bene che ti voglio…”  In Italy we have this old song which translates as ‘July with the good that I want you’ and now, more than ever, it fits perfectly with this month.

After spring and the Classics, July is the month that brings together two very important events of my 2022: Giro d’Italia (just finished) and the Tour de France (just started).

Before going deep on these races, I want to dedicate the first note of my blog to a substantial novelty: In my closet there is no longer the tricolore jersey of Italian champion. After wearing it for two seasons, at the end of June I had to pass it to my teammate and friend Elisa Balsamo. I won’t hide the fact that on the day of the Italian Championships, after the finish line, I felt a strange sensation realizing that I would no longer wear the tricolore jersey.

Giro d'Italia Donne 2022 - 33rd Edition - 4th stage Cesena - Cesena 120,9 km 04/07/2022 - Leah Thomas (USA - Trek - Segafredo) Elisa Balsamo (ITA - Trek - Segafredo) Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA - Trek - Segafredo) - photo Massimo Fulgenzi/PMG Sport/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

With a good dose of realism, I knew that the course this year did not fit my characteristics and it would have been difficult to defend the title myself. However, the emotional aspect you cannot control. I had become attached to the tricolore jersey. I wore it around the world with enormous pride and it had become like a second skin. I admit it took me a few hours to come to terms with it but, in the end, I said to myself, “well it’s just goodbye.”

The most curious thing happened then at the Giro, where our staff did not immediately recognize me in the group and my colleagues looked at me almost astonished. So many opponents pointed out that it was easier to recognize me in the group before. “Great,” I replied, because now it will be easier to go on the attack.

Giro d'Italia Donne 2022 - 33rd Edition - 7th stage Prevalle - Passo Maniva 113,4 km 07/07/2022 - Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA - Trek - Segafredo)- photo Massimo Fulgenzi/PMG Sport/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

Leaving aside the talk of the jersey, let’s move the focus onto the Giro Donne. Not just a simple “Giro”, but the most beautiful Giro I’ve ever ridden. As Trek-Segafredo, we can be super happy. We were a super tight group supported by a super organized team. We experienced ten stages in an atmosphere that was relaxed but focused, serene but combative, joyful but never distracted. We experienced great days with Elisa Balsamo’s victories, but at the same we had also hard days, like in the Cesena stage that, due to the heat, made me suffer the pains of hell. However, regardless of the results, there was never any tension between us, instead there was always a competitive and constructive spirit.

Tour de France Femmes 2022 - 1st Edition - 1st stage Paris (Tour Eiffel) - Paris (Champs-Élysées) 81.7km - 24/07/2022 - Trek - Segafredo - photo Anton Vos/CV/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

The Giro was the best way for me to approach my first Tour de France. It created in me feeling of serenity that will serve me well. However, I expect a very different race in France. You could see it starting with the increased media attention created in recent months. Everyone’s expectations are high, both for the race as an event and also the action itself: hard-fought stages every day. I also think in many girls’ heads the level of expectation and pressure is high as well. I guess you’re wondering if that’s the case for me…

Right now, I can definitely say “no”.

I know that I have worked well and that I have prepared properly. I couldn’t have done or asked for anything better and being able to recognize this gives me a lot of satisfaction. Of course, I have a goal, shared with the team, which is to go for the General Classification. It’s something I want to try to do and I’m excited about it. But, I’m not looking for a tactical wheel-to-wheel race, I don’t think that’s what suits me here. I want to enjoy every moment of the Tour de France Femmes and I want to do it my way: aggressively, having fun and trying to put on a show and provide entertainment to the thousands of fans who will be watching.