Trek-Segafredo won Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio for the third time in a row on Sunday as a solo effort by Shirin van Anrooij continued the run of victories started by Elisa Longo Borghini and Elisa Balsamo.
Given the record at the race, it was hardly unexpected that the team took victory but there was no one that seemed more surprised than Van Anrooij that it was her 25-kilometre solo that delivered the win. It was the Dutch riders first elite UCI victory of her career and Balsamo completed the day for Trek-Segafredo by taking second place in the sprint of a reduced group.
“I knew I was in a really good shape, but still, I only started my road season last Wednesday after a break after cyclo-cross. I came here more with the expectation of helping Elisa again to try to win the sprint. Then I felt super strong and just tried to attack, and somehow, I could keep a gap until the finish line,” the 21-year-old said at the race press conference.
“I was really nervous before Nokere, I was looking forward to racing on the road again, but I thought I needed a lot of races to get into a good form. I wanted to use these races to get into shape towards the Ardennes. I was hoping to maybe go for a win somewhere during the season. I wanted to prove I had the same form as last year, but to win already in the second race is something I couldn’t have imagined.”
At Danilith Nokere Koerse on Wednesday Van Anrooij finished 27th as she started the season by racing in support of Balsamo. At Trofeo Alfredo Binda, not surprisingly, backing the defending champion was again high on the agenda.
“I was hoping to maybe go for a win somewhere during the season,” said Anrooij. “I wanted to prove I had the same form as last year, but to win already in the second race is something I couldn’t have imagined.”
“Before the race, we had the plan to try to get someone in a break or in an attack and otherwise go for the sprint for Balsamo,” she explained, and this was exactly how the race played out when Van Anrooij attacked on the Orino climb.
“Gaia Realini was riding at the front at a hard pace, the whole peloton was stretched. Balsamo was on my wheel, but she told me, ‘okay, now is the time to try to go and attack’. [Kasia] Niewiadoma went, I could feel I had something more left, and there was a downhill coming, so I just tried to go all out.
“I could get a few seconds because of some technical skills in the descent from cyclo-cross. The gap stayed at ten seconds for such a long time, but everyone from the team kept telling me that I needed to keep pushing. In the end, if they would catch me back, we would have Elisa for the sprint, so it was a perfect scenario.”
During the winter, Van Anrooij had a successful cyclo-cross campaign with seven victories in a stacked field, the last of which was the U23 World Championships. With such a palmarès off the road, thoughts of turning her focus purely to the road are far from the Trek-Segafredo rider’s mind.
“I like both disciplines and think they make each other stronger, and I use them both to become a better rider. I think I showed today that it’s good to combine it. I had ‘Cross Worlds, then two weeks off, two weeks on the bike, and now started racing on the road, and I’m in a really good shape already. With Van der Poel winning Sanremo yesterday, we did show that cyclocross is also a good preparation for the road,” Van Anrooij said with a chuckle.