Elisa Balsamo is an Italian professional cyclist who races for Lidl-Trek. She is one of the best sprinters in the current peloton and is best known for her surprise win at the 2021 Leuven World Championships where she beat Marianne Vos to the rainbow jersey. She also features stage wins at the Gent-Wevelgem, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Brugge-De Panne classic, aswell as stages in several high-level races.
Name: Elisa Balsamo
Born: 27 February 1998
Birthplace: Cuneo, Italy
Turned Pro: 2017
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Elisa Balsamo was born in Cuneo, northern Italy on the 27th February 1998. One of Italy's main figures in cycling, she is a track and road cyclist who has achieved her biggest successes on the base of her sprinting capabilities. She is said to have an FTP of around 250 watts, or 4.5W/Kg to be more precise. She is also has a university degree in modern and contemporary literature.
Coming from a family of avid cyclists, she took up several sports in her youth, eventually discovering her talent in cycling and keeping it up. As a junior rider, she travelled to the Doha World Championships and became World Champion, proving her talent and bringing the attention of some of the world's best team, including Valcar-PBM who she signed with in 2017.
In the track she has taken as a junior a World title in Scratch, European and national titles in the Team Pursuit in 2015, and 2016 she became World and European Champion in both Omnium and Team Pursuit, aswell as national champion in Scratch. In 2017 she became European Champion in the Omnium, aswell as both Elite and under-23 Team Pursuit Champion. 2018 saw her become European under-23 team pursuit champion and Italian Madison champion, and after a long break from the boards, in 2022 she returned to win another Team pursuit title at the World Championships.
On the road she took her first pro steps in 2017 where she finished 2nd at the GP Beghelli Internazionale Donne where she finished second with only 18 years of age. In 2018 she proved herself in the pro peloton, taking the win in the Italian race, alongside what was her first pro win at the Omloop van Borsele back in April. She has finished 3rd at the World Tour RideLondon Classique and displayed throughout the season some more strong performances.
In 2019 she won the Trofee Maarten Wynants, Dwars door de Wetshoek and stages at the Tour of California and Giro delle Marche in Rosa, aswell as finishing second at the national championships and RideLondon Classique. She's also shown glimpses of talent in the cobbled classics. In 2020 she had a short calendar with only 17 race days, but her two wins were both of very high level, winning the European under-23 Championships in Plouay and the final stage of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta - in addition of finishing in the Top10 of La Course by Le Tour de France.
2021 was her breakthrough year however. Throughout the year she won the GP de Oetingen, also finishing on the Top5 of Brugge-De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem, Scheldeprijs and De Brabantse Pijl, showing her talent in the Belgian classics. She hadn't given massive signs of being the woman to beat at the Leuven World Championships, but she benefited from a more compact race than the men which ended in a reduced bunch sprint, and she beat Marianne Vos in the slight uphill sprint to become World Champion. Later in the year she took her first win in the rainbow jersey at the Women's Tour.
In 2022 as she moved into Trek - Segafredo she opened her year with a win at the Volta Comunitat Valenciana. It was a very strong spring with consecutive wins at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Brugge-De Panne classic and Gent-Wevelgem, proving her talent as a leading classics rider. She also won the Italian national championships later in the summer, aswell as stage wins at the Tour de Suisse and Giro d'Italia. Balsamo was second at the European Championships behind Lorena Wiebes, but took a win at the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta to complete her season before giving away the rainbow jersey.
Balsamo started off her season immediately with two consecutive victories at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, and had second places at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Classic Brugge-De Panne. Her season was split into two different sections, as she crashed at the RideLondon Classique with serious consequences. She suffered a fractured scapula and compound fractures to her right mandibular condyle and mandibular symphysis. She did return to racing at the Tour de France Femmes two months later, although she had to abandon throughout the race. However, she returned to her winning ways at the Simac Ladies Tour.
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