A look back at a remarkable season marked by historic victories and notable retirements
Starting the 2021 season as defending WorldTour champions, with the spotlight on you as the “team to beat” was not easy. But in the end, Trek-Segafredo’s 2021 season can be considered a big success.
The proof, first of all, is in the numbers: 22 victories, 2nd place in both the UCI World and WorldTour rankings, and 3rd in the WorldTour individual ranking with Elisa Longo Borghini (who also maintains 2nd in the on-going individual UCI World ranking).
If numbers are not enough, the quality of the results speaks volumes: the historical victory of Lizzie Deignan in the first ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes and the World time trial championship and European road race championship by Ellen van Dijk, above all.
But we shall proceed in order, because 2021 really deserves to be told from beginning to end.
A successful start
With the traditional debut in Australia canceled and the Volta Valenciana postponed, Trek-Segafredo opened their dance at the end of February at Omloop Het Niuwsblad with a 10th place by Elisa Longo Borghini. A few days later Chloe Hosking captured the Team’s first podium, taking 3rd in Le Samyn. It was an encouraging start that continued in Strade Bianche with Longo Borghini, who was on fire for the early season. She went head-to-head with Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak in an exciting finale, narrowly missing the victory but capturing a well-earned second place.
The first success of the year wasn’t long to follow. In Stage 2 of Healthy Ageing Tour, Ellen van Dijk won the time trial and took over the leader’s jersey. The next day Ellen successfully defended the lead in a difficult final stage and won the overall GC. One week later the red-hot Italian Champion, Longo Borghini, finally hit the bullseye, taking a solo win at Trofeo Binda.
Up next: Belgium and the infamous cobbles.
The Spring Classics
The team arrived at the season of the Northern Classics with ambition, but high motivation does not always guarantee results. Add in health problems with Lizzie Deignan and Ellen van Dijk and a fatigued Lucinda Brand after a challenging but massively rewarding cyclo-cross season (that culminated with winning the World Championships). In the end, the best result on the cobbles came from Longo Borghini, who took a respectable 4th at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Ruth Winder was able to lift the mood in the Brabantse Pijl. After more than a year, the American champion found success again thanks to a perfect throw of the bike that allowed her to take a photofinish win over Demi Vollering and Elisa Balsamo. The team was on a high and ready to face the Ardenne’s, however without Lizzie Deignan: a period of rest was granted to her to recover fully. Going in as sole leader, Longo Borghini rose to the occasion and once again proved her solidity, placing 3rd at Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Another 3rd came at Emakumeen Nafarroako mid-May, while Winder placed 2nd one day later in the Navarra Women’s Classic.
Chasing Stages and General Classifications
The collection of podiums in one-day races continued in the stage races, that characterized the team’s calendar beginning in May. Amalie Dideriksen placed 3rd in Stage 2 of Vuelta a Burgos, while Longo Borghini came close to the podium in the queen stage. The team returned to the top step, thanks to Lucinda Brand who, once recovered from the cyclocross fatigue, had a superb performance at the Thüringen Ladies Tour: two stage wins and the final overall classification. In the following race, the Tour de Suisse, Lizzie Deignan returned to win the final classification via time bonuses after a close challenge with Elise Chabbey.
The national championships, in mid-June, enriched the seasonal tally with four victories: Longo Borghini confirmed herself as Italian RR and TT champion, Audrey Cordon-Ragot returned to the French TT throne and Amalie Dideriksen won the road race title in Denmark.
The Team’s win streak continued at the Belgium Tour with Ellen van Dijk winning the prologue (and young Elynor Backstedt taking 2nd) and going on to finish 2nd overall. The Dutch time trial specialist was also part of the Trek-Segafredo protagonists who won the opening Team Time Trial of the Giro d’Italia Femminile in early July (with Elisa Longo Borghini, Lizzie Deignan, Lucinda Brand, Tayler Wiles and Ruth Winder who got the honor of the Maglia Rosa).
The Giro Rosa, the queen of stage races on the women’s calendar (next year will share the scepter with the awaited Tour de France Femmes) saw an aggressive Trek-Segafredo team for the 10 days. In the end, the Team took home one win (TTT), three 2nd places (Brand, Longo Borghini and Deignan), and a 4th place in GC with Lizzie Deignan. Lucinda Band also added the green mountains jersey to the tally.
Last but not least, the Giro also became the stage for Ruth Winder to announce her imminent retirement from professional road cycling at the end of the season.
Late Summer to an Autumn Roubaix
A few weeks after her announcement, Winder battled to 2nd place in the Klasika San Sebastian. It was the start of the third part of the season, which would prove to be a most satisfying period for the Team. In mid-August, Chloe Hosking took her first win with Trek-Segafredo in Stage 4 of the Tour of Norway. For the Australian sprinter it was a liberation after sidelined for five months marked by Covid-19 complications.
Longo Borghini brought the team back onto the top step, succeeding Lizzie Deignan as winner of GP of Plouay. Her constancy of performance deserved a prize, but at the three-day Ceratizit Challenge by la Vuelta she had to be content with a podium placing (2nd on the last day).
The last two months of racing started with a series of big results: Van Dijk won the silver medal in the European Time Trial Championship (Sept. 9), while Chloe Hosking, Ruth Winder and Lucinda Brand completed a hat-trick at Tour de l’Ardèche (Sept. 10,11,14). Ellen then triumphed again with a race that was not her target but ended with a beautiful solo victory in the European Road Championship title (Sept. 11).
The Team’s account numbered 20, but the best was yet to come. In Belgium, at the UCI World Championships, Ellen van Dijk captured her season’s biggest goal by winning her second World time trial title (after Florence in 2013).
One week later, in the much-awaited Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Lizzie Deignan marked a new signature in cycling history. In a gutsy solo breakaway that started in the first cobbled sector, Deignan captured the first edition of L’Enfer Du Nord. And adding to the Team’s dominating performane, Elisa Longo Borghini ended her successful season on the historic podium, taking third place.
The celebration of this momentous, historic moment was joyful but short because in two days started The Women’s Tour. Chloe Hosking was looking for another, but just missed top success with a 2nd and twice taking 3rd. It was still a memorable occasion as Trixi Worrack announced her retirement from a 18-year career with almost 50 successes. Two weeks later, the curtain came down on a long 2021 season in the Netherlands at Drentse Acht van Westerveld (Hosking 4th) and Ronde van Drenthe.
It was a successful year marked with historic results. Who’s eager to see what unfolds in 2022?