Elisa Longo Borghini sacrifices Paris-Roubaix in search of Ardennes glory

Former winner to instead focus on Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as she looks for first Ardennes title

Clock21:00, Sunday 24th March 2024
Elisa Longo Borghini finished 3rd at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes in 2021 before winning the following year's edition

© Getty Images

Elisa Longo Borghini finished 3rd at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes in 2021 before winning the following year's edition

Former Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift winner Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) will miss this year’s Hell of the North, as she places her eggs in the Ardennes Classics basket.

The Italian champion triumphed on the flat cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix in the second edition of the women’s version in 2022, but is worried about spreading herself too thin this spring and indeed this season.

As well as Paris-Roubaix, she has previously won the Tour of Flanders, Strade Bianche, and Trofeo Alfredo Binda, but has never won one of the three Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“We want to concentrate on the Ardennes, which is the big target this year,” Longo Borghini told GCN at the start of Gent-Wevelgem.

“Surely, it’s sad to miss such a big race, but at this moment you have to focus on your targets, and this year my focus is more on the Ardennes.”

Read more: Spring Classics 2024: Essential guide to the races and riders

Longo Borghini has already had a strong start to the season and to the Classics campaign, with a top-10 overall at the UAE Tour followed by podiums at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche, plus a win at the Trofeo Oro.

However, she decided to skip Trofeo Alfredo Binda in favour of a training camp at altitude on Mount Teide, Tenerife. She returned to sea level on Friday and lined out at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, but has limited expectations for the cobbles – with Tour of Flanders also on the menu next Sunday.

“I was training on Teide and I worked a bit more on the climbing, especially for the Ardennes but also just the upcoming goals in general,” Longo Borghini said.

“The Ardennes races inspire me. They inspire a lot of riders. They are nice to win or be on the podium and I just want to be good there.”

Longo Borghini has endured a string of near misses in the Ardennes. Last year she was runner-up at Liège, in 2021 she was on the podium there and at Flèche, and she has two further Flèche podiums plus a string of top-10s across all three races.

“I will try recover from this block of racing, stay home, then train a bit,” Longo Borghini said.

“I’ll come back to Belgium doing some recons, then we go full for the week.”

As for whether the big sacrifice will prove worthwhile: “We will have to see.”

For the latest news, interviews and analysis from the world of professional cycling, be sure to check out the Racing tab on the GCN website and visit our essential guide to the spring classics to stay up to date with all of the action from cycling's most exciting season.

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