Guazzini celebrates the victory of her teammate Elisa Balsamo in the U23 women's road race at the 2020 European Road Championships.

Introducing Vittoria Guazzini, U23 European TT champ, rising Italian star

Guazzini is the latest talent to step up to the WorldTour from the Italian Continental squad, Valcar Travel & Service. 

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A new wave of Italian talent is coming to the Women’s WorldTour. While the likes of Elisa Longo Borghini and Marta Bastianelli are well established at the top of the sport, in their wake, the next generation of young Italian superstars has emerged.

Last September, 23-year-old Elisa Balsamo became the first Italian woman to win the elite road race world title for 10 years – the previous winner being rider-turned-DS Giorgia Bronzini in 2011. Elsewhere, 23-year-old Marta Cavalli rode to sixth on GC at the Giro Donne in her first season on a women’s WorldTeam. Both riders cut their teeth in the longstanding Italian Continental squad Valcar Travel & Service. 

The latest in a string of talented young riders to take the leap from Valcar to the WorldTour is 21-year-old Vittoria Guazzini, who has joined her former teammate, Cavalli, on FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope.  

“I know her very well,” Guazzini says of Cavalli. “I talked a lot to her before deciding to come into the team and she always spoke well about the team of course. She said that it helped her to improve, and this year she really improved a lot, and I’m looking forward to doing the same.” 

Guazzini turned pro as a first year U23 with Valcar and stayed with the squad for three seasons. The team has become a springboard into the WorldTour for many talented young riders in recent years, including Balsamo and Cavalli, but also Teniel Campbell of BikeExchange-Jayco. To what does Guazzini credit the team’s success?

“I have to say that we are in the unique category, we won a lot together on the track and also individual races,” she explains. “We worked a lot together also to create the group and this has been important for us to train together also to improve and learn from one another.

“Valcar has really done a good job with us because Elisa, Chiara [Consonni] and I, also other girls, went there in the first year as elite and they helped us grow step by step without forcing things because they wanted us to win. It was gradual and now we reached a good level. And I hope in the next years [that] I can still improve.” 

Guazzini has held multiple junior national track, road race, and time trial titles and is the current European U23 time trial champion. Outside of racing against the clock, she has shown plenty of promise in Classics races too and was also part of the winning Italian national team at the Road world Championships in Leuven last year. 

At the tail end of a successful 2021 season, however, Guazinni suffered the fate of many riders at the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix and crashed – sustaining a double ankle fracture. The injury forced her to end her season early meaning she had to sit out Women’s Tour and the Track World Championships while she had surgery in France then spent a month in a cast before starting intense physio rehab. 

When we speak, the young Italian is in the middle of an FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope team training camp in Spain having been back on the bike for less than two weeks. “It’s going very good,” she says of the injury. “Better than expected at the beginning. I really did everything I had to do because I wanted to come back [to] the bike. So I’m happy with how it’s going. And I think it will improve again, day by day.” 

With her ankle still on the mend, Guazzini was unable to train alongside the other riders at the team camp, however her first impressions of her new team were still positive. “It’s going really good,” she says. “I find a good environment here and I really get on well with my teammates and with the staff. So for now, it’s all going really good.

“I have a different programme from the other girls, but I always start with them and maybe I take a shortcut to come back. But yeah, it’s going good. I even did three hours and a half yesterday. I was a bit tired in the end, but I was happy.”

Guazzini was introduced to cycling aged six when she balanced riding with swimming. But, “the first time I got back on a road bike, I decided that I wanted to do cycling,” she recalls. “At the beginning of course it was just a hobby. I enjoyed it. I really liked to watch cycling on TV. And now I hope it can also be my job, my profession.” 

As she hoped, Guazzini now makes her living through cycling and has signed a two-year deal with FDJ. Since she first dreamed of making cycling her career, prospects within the women’s peloton have improved exponentially.

“I remember when I was watching the World Championships in Florence, near my home in 2013 … I think that cycling, as we all know, has changed a lot in the last years, especially women’s cycling,” she says. “I remember when I was younger, that I followed women’s cycling, but it was way different.

“With the new WorldTour teams, it’s going in the right way, more like the men’s. Of course, there is still a big difference but every year we see new steps and with the Tour de France and also Paris-Roubaix.

“It’s also a really good thing that we race the same day, or Saturday and Sunday, because this allows us to have more visibility. Hopefully in the next years, we won’t talk about differences – but it’s a long way to go.” 

Guazzini won the U23 women’s TT at the 2021 European Road Championships.

Away from cycling, Guazzini also has a talent for playing the guitar, and occasionally posts videos of her playing on social media. “I love music, and I really love listening to music every day, every moment of the day, especially when I’m training,” she says. “I used to play guitar in a band when I was younger, but then I had to stop because I didn’t have much free time. But now, when I can, I always play the guitar.” 

Having music as a passion away from cycling has helped Guazzini to maintain a level head throughout adversity in her career, her recent injury included. “I have to say that in this month it also helped me to spend the day because I couldn’t do much more,” she says. 

Thanks to her previous team’s controlled approach to rider development, Guazzini’s upward trajectory still has a long way to go, and she does not expect too much pressure from her new team either. 

“I don’t know yet what will be my role,” she says of her place within FDJ. “I think I will help the team to win in the next season. For me it’s really good, I’m excited at the end of the race when I know that I contributed to the win, even if I didn’t win [myself]. But I think that everyone has an important role in the race.”

Guazzini (third from left) at the start of the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix in 2021.

While her ankle is well on the mend, the injury means that she is cautious about setting too many goals for the upcoming season. “Of course, if I have some chance to find my personal results, I hope I will be ready,” she says. “But now I don’t even know when I will start, also because of the injury. So I’m living day by day and then we’ll see. But it is a really strong team with many strong riders so I think we will do a good season.” 

In future seasons, however, Guazzini has her sights set on some big targets. “For sure Flanders is my dream race,” she says. “When I was younger I watched every year the Classics races because they are the races that I liked the most. And the first year in the elite category that I had the opportunity to race Flanders I really had goosebumps when I was on the Kwaremont.”

Perhaps understandably, there is one race that she is not so keen to return to. “Maybe I will change my mind also about Paris-Roubaix but we will see – at the moment, I don’t like it so much.” 

For now, Guazzini is open to whatever opportunities her step up to the WorldTour may bring: “I’m really excited to be in the team. It’s a big step for me. And it’s really different. Because we always say that Valcar is like a family. And it was really like that, it’s not just something we say just to say it, but it’s been a difficult choice for me.

“In the end, I took this decision, but I’m incredibly grateful to them because I couldn’t be where I am without them. So I always like to thank them. Now a new era is coming for me and I hope that I won’t disappoint the people who have always believed in me and still do.”

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