The world champion sprints to her second victory in the Giro d'Italia
It was a fight for the last corner of the race in Stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia. Only 150 meters remained after the turn and if you were not in the right position coming into curve, game over.
Using her track experience, Balsamo maintained position. And focus. And found pole position. She came into the critical corner first and launched her sprint. The rest is history.
Add another Giro win to her already impressive palmares.
“Winning is never boring!” smiled Elisa. “Each success is built differently, has its own story, carries its own peculiarities and emotions.
“Today we had studied the stage very well, especially the last kilometers. The goal was to take the last corner in the lead since we knew it would be decisive. From the team car, Ina directed us impeccably and we also had Luca [Guercilena] on site to recon the finish line. It is also thanks to these details that successes come. It is my first participation of the Giro, and I could not ask for more. I am really happy!”
A crash inside the last kilometer added a little drama to Elisa’s winning story. Those ahead of it heard that appalling sound of bikes hitting tarmac. But Elisa never lost her focus.
“The crash in the finale didn’t distract me from the sprint, but I got worried when I didn’t immediately see Elisa in the first group,” she explained. “I heard on the radio that she had crashed. After, seeing her cross the finish line was a huge relief. She seems to be okay, and I hope it is the same for all the others involved.”
To paint a proper picture of Stage 5, we need to hit rewind. Long before the final critical corner of the 126-kilometer race, a breakaway animated the front, and it was the unsung heros that ruled.
Leah Thomas, in particular today, was a force. On other days, it is someone else that gets the nod, but always a team effort from start to finish. While Balsamo basks in another win, she knows it’s all due to her selfless Team.
“Today my team did a super job to put me in the best position and I am super happy to have repaid their effort. I dedicate my success to them,” she said.
While the Team may do all the work ahead of the last kilometers, it is still up to the sprinters to finish it off. It’s a lot of pressure. And never a done deal.
“I entered the last corner in the wrong gear and I lost a bit of speed before I could relaunch, but I was able to correct in time and sprint at my best,” explained Balsamo. “I think it was a good sprint and a good challenge between top sprinters like Vos, Consonni, Bastianelli and,in particular, Charlotte Kool. She is a strong contender, amongst the fastest in the peloton; a rider that I know well who is not often able to sprint since she’s a key leadout for [Lorena} Wiebes.”
In the end, Balsamo got it right. Flying out of the final turn first she was able to correct a small mistake and hold off her challengers.
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) July 5, 2022
Elisa holds the points lead and will take the purple jersey into a tricky circuit race tomorrow. But it is the three mountain stages that follow that will be her biggest barrier.
“Tomorrow will be a special day, we will start from Sarnico, where I live. I know the route very well and I expect a hectic stage, suitable for breakaways and attacks. We will then see how it evolves, but I am sure it will be a tough day,” she explained.
“Keeping the ciclamino jersey in the coming days will be difficult, given the characteristics of the stages. The hope is to get to the last stage with an acceptable points gap and try to play it out. We’ll see,” she added.