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‘We will fight to get revenge’ – Balsamo's Gent-Wevelgem near miss stokes Tour of Flanders fire

Heading into Gent-Wevelgem Women Elisa Balsamo had been on the charge, winning her last two races, Classic Brugge – De Panne and Trofeo Alfredo Binda, and while the impressive form and teamwork continued through to Sunday’s race the Lidl-Trek rider fell just centimeters short of making it three in a row.

It was instead SD Worx who made it to the top step this time, with Lorena Wiebes winning the sprint which was so tight that the top two had to wait for the analysis of the photo finish before finding out whether they could celebrate victory. It was clear by the look on her face that missing out on making it three in a row by such a narrow margin stung, but Balsamo could also see the positives. 

“We just spoke with the team and debriefed. We actually did a really good race. My teammates did a great job,” said Balsamo in a Lidl-Trek statement. “It was a good sprint but I just missed for a little bit. For sure I wanted to win, but also second place is good.”

The runner-up spot may have meant Balsamo missed the hat trick but she maintains her podium run, with the 26 year old having started the month with a second at Ronde van Drenthe before delivering the first and second Women’s WorldTour wins of the season for her team.

“We were also just very proud of Elisa to be there again and that we were there with five,” said teammate Shirin van Anrooij in a post race interview on ProCycling Women. “We were up there and in the end it was super close and better luck next time I guess.” 

The next big target will be at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, a race the team has yet to win but where Lidl-Trek have a number of riders that could fare well at the cobbled Classic. That runs from Van Anrooij and Balsamo to Elisa Longo Borghini and Lucinda Brand, plus the squad will have the experience of two former winners, Lizzie Deignan and Ellen van Dijk, along with the ever reliable Lauretta Hanson. 

SD Worx’ Lotte Kopecky, who was working hard for winner Wiebes at Gent-Wevelgem, is likely to jump back into the spotlight at the event where she  lines up as a two-time defending champion. SD Worx took the top two spots at the Tour of Flanders in 2023, with Kopecky and Demi Vollering while Longo Borghini came third. The Lidl-Trek team, however, have made clear that they will be doing everything possible to reshuffle the team order on those steps at the race in 2024.  

“I know that next week will be really hard, but we will fight to get revenge,” said Balsamo.

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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