Elisa Longo Borghini's winning move in the 2021 edition of Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

Preview: Route and riders to watch ahead of Trofeo Alfredo Binda

The women's WorldTour turns to Italy for Trofeo Alfredo Binda on Sunday.

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One of a few Women’s WorldTour races without a men’s equivalent, Trofeo Alfredo Binda serves as a pre-Belgian classics warmup. With Ronde van Drenthe the weekend before and the Tour of Flanders two weeks later, Trofeo Alfredo Binda is often skipped by some of the top riders. It’s a toss-up whether or not the best of the best will be there, which opens the door for a handful of other riders to go for the win. For example, the last time Annemiek van Vleuten raced Trofeo Alfredo Binda was in 2017.

As the calendar grows we’re seeing teams pick and choose where they send their top riders. Jumbo-Visma opted not to send Coryn Labecki and Marianne Vos to Drenthe last weekend but the two will be present in Italy on Sunday. Likewise, Trek-Segafredo’s Elisa Longo Borghini took the two weeks since Strade Bianche to hone her form in the hopes of defending her title.

In typical spring racing fashion, Trofeo Alfredo Binda can be impacted drastically by weather. In 2018 Kasia Niewiadoma won in horrendous conditions. When Longo Borghini won last year it was under sunny skies. The forecast for Sunday is not warm, with over 75% cloud cover and wind gusts but will likely remain dry.

With its location in the hills north-east of Milan, Trofeo Alfredo Binda usually starts off pretty cold, and with some technical descents, there are opportunities for the gutsy riders to take advantage of any hesitation.

All in all, Trofeo Alfredo Binda is not a race to miss, so here’s everything you need to know.

The Route

The route follows the same 141.8 km long course it has in previous editions, with a short opening loop, then one long lap completed once, then a small circuit the peloton will follow multiple times.

Before the course takes the race towards the ‘Giro Lungo’ the riders will open their legs on an initial climb to Orino. The climb is 3.8 km in length and averages 3% and so early on in the day, it’s a brutal opener for a long race ahead.

After the opening loop, the race heads toward the longest climb of the day from Grantola to Bedero Valcuvia. This one is about 4 km in length and a little steeper than the first climb, however, there’s still a little under 100 km to go at this point so it’s unlikely there will be any significant moves made here. Typically we have seen early breaks make their way off the front at this point.

The real action will happen on the four circuits that cross the finish line and include part of the climb from the initial lap with some fun additions. Before racing up the climb to Orino there is a shorter 850-meter incline and descent that will serve to break the peloton apart before the 1.5 km climb to Orino. Every year this is where the biggest attacks are made and the most damage is done.

If we look back at the last three editions (there was no 2020 edition due to the pandemic) the winning moves were all made in the last lap of the race. Kasia Niewiadoma won in 2018 by attacking 8 km from the finish, just before the top of the final climb, and taking advantage of her superior descending abilities on wet roads. The following year came down the final climb again, and despite a flurry of attacks the race actually remained intact enough for Marianne Vos to sprint to victory. In 2021 Elisa Longo Borghini followed a move by Niewiadoma on the shorter climb to Casaluzuigno and gained her advantage climbing to Orino.

The final 3 km is slightly rolling but mostly downhill with a false flat climb to the finish. If it comes down to a reduced peloton the race can be won or lost of the final right-hand corner into the finishing straight.

The Favourites

This race has been won solo by over a minute, it’s been a reduced bunch sprint, it’s come down to a breakaway…basically, there is no telling how the race will be won on Sunday. The current WWT leader Lotte Kopecky will not line up for SD Worx, nor will Van Vleuten, but there are still a lot of heavy hitters who will want to add this race to their palmares.

Defending champion Elisa Longo Borghini hasn’t had the start to her season that she enjoyed last year. The Italian national champion has been unnaturally quiet in the opening races, probably building up to a huge Women’s WorldTour season ahead. She still made the key selections in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche so the form is building nicely. In order to repeat her 2021 victory, she will need Trek-Segafredo to rally around her. Their team performance made a huge impact on the race last year, and it will be interesting to see if they can rally to do so again. It is also worth noting that Longo Borghini won in much the same style in 2013 where she finished solo over a minute and a half in front of Emma Johansson.

Trek-Segafredo announced earlier in the week that their star domestique Audrey Cordon-Ragot would be stepping it up this year. She often finds herself in breakaways but is always relegated to working for others. In her new role on the team, Cordon-Ragot is one to watch. She’s one of the strongest riders in the peloton and is savy to boot. Also worth noting that Ellen van Dijk will be there for covering any attacks and just, in general, being a boss, as will Leah Thomas. It will be the American’s debut with her new team.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has finished third at Trofeo Alfredo Binda three times, in 2017, 2019 and 2021. The repetitive short climbs suit the Danish rider but her chances depend on how aggressive the race is. Uttrup Ludwig had a pretty good performance at Strade Bianche where she finished fifth, with the help of her new teammate Grace Brown, so expect to see her in the mix again on Sunday. Marta Cavalli missed Strade Bianche but is on the provisional start list for Binda. The Italian has been climbing really well already this season but her form is still a little up in the air. Still, if she is holding on to any fitness from Setmana Valenciana, she’s a threat.

SD Worx is actually lining up with quite a few of their younger riders. The team leaders are likely Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, the two veterans on the team. Moolman Pasio was impressive at Strade Bianche and Van den Broek-Blaak hasn’t looked as good this year as last, if either of them wants to win it will have to be from a small group or solo. Likewise, Marlen Reusser could win with an attack in the final circuits. The Swiss national champion has spent a lot of time in breakaways this year so it’s fitting she gets an opportunity to win at a race like Binda.

Looking at the line-up for SD Worx their best bet will be to make the race aggressive. They are missing Kopecky and Demi Vollering, two of their best riders, and while they have had the numbers in every race, they haven’t quite been the weapon they were in previous years. (Minus Kopecky, that woman is a league of her own).

Coryn Labecki (formerly Rivera) winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda in 2017.

The team with the most options is without question Jumbo-Visma. The Dutch squad is lining up with former winner Coryn Labecki and one of the best descenders in the women’s peloton Anna Henderson. Unfortunately, Marianne Vos is not on the start list this year.

As for Labecki. The Amerian won from a reduced peloton in 2017, outsprinting Arlenis Sierra and Uttrup Ludwig. The uphill drag is ideal for Labecki, as an incredible sprinter who is also quite small. Labecki has only raced Strade Bianche with her new Jumbo-Visma team. where she finished 21st, nothing to write home about but also not a bad performance. Whether or not Labecki can win depends entirely on how fast the hills are raced. She’s not a bad climber but she can’t contend with the likes of Longo Borghini and Moolman Pasio on the uphills.

With the technical descents, and since the race has been won on the descents before, Henderson needs to be on the radar for this race. A former-downhill skier, Henderson is one of the only people in the peloton who can contend with Neiwiadoma on the most treacherous of descents. The British rider hasn’t won a WorldTour race yet but has been very close on several occasions, including the final stage of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta. Henderson is getting better and better with each race and the trimmed down start list and the technical course could set the stage for her first big win.

Unfortunately, one of the hot favourites and former winner Kasia Niewiadoma will not be lining up for Canyon-SRAM. The loss of Niewiadoma is a big hit for her team but it does mean that Elise Chabbey, who has been impressive so far this season, has the opportunity to fight for the win. Chabbey has been busy animating Ronde van Drenthe and Strade Bianche and her ability to pick the right moment to attack is getting better. If the race features a small selection make no doubt that Chabbey can be there.

Team DSM has a strong line-up with Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij as potential favorites. Mackaij especially was present in every major move that went at Ronde van Drenthe.

CyclingTips Star Rankings

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Longo Borghini
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Chabbey, Labecki, Uttrup Ludwig
⭐️⭐️⭐️: Mackaij, Cavalli, Reusser
⭐️⭐️: Lippert, Henderson, Moolman-Pasio
⭐️: Spratt, Balsamo, Van den Broek-Blaak

How to watch

Live coverage for Trofeo Alfredo Binda kicks off at 2:45 pm CET on GCN+ for anyone viewing from North America, Latin America, and Europe.

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