Giro and Tour de France double win 'possible' for a 'big champion', says Elisa Longo Borghini

Italian champion says she would like to go to the first Tour de France Femmes with an open role

Elisa Longo Borghini
Elisa Longho Borghini celebrates her third place at Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Getty)

A double win at the Giro d'Italia Donne and the eight stage Tour de France Femmes is "possible", for a "big champion", Elisa Longo Borghini has said.

Speaking at a Trek-Segafredo training camp, the Italian champion said scheduling both races for July wasn't her preference, but riders had to "accept it" and do everything they can to be in their "best shape for both races."

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Both the ten-stage Giro d'Italia Donne and the eight-stage Tour will take place in July, while the men's editions take place in May and July respectively. Longo Borghini is down to ride both prestigious stage races.

She said: "It would be great if the Giro could be May straight after the men's Giro, then it would give a better structure to the calendar. This season it's like this and we have to accept it and go with it, and do everything to be in our best shape for both races. 

"Or maybe go to the Giro having in the head that we want to be very strong at the Tour. For me it's prestige to be at the start line of both races, and I would not choose only one, at least not this year."

The last man to win both the Tour and the Giro in the same season was Marco Pantani in 1998; with both women's races happening in July this year there is a chance that one woman will attempt both.

"It depends who is taking the start at the Giro and what she wants from the Giro too," Longo Borghini said. "I see some riders going into the Giro with a good block of training. It needs to be a hard Giro where people can train hard rather than staying at home. I think it's possible to do the double, but you have to be a big champion to do so."

The route itself is "very exciting", she said. "All the girls that were at the presentation told me that it was something really big, and the expectations are really high. I want to stand with my feet on the pavement, and not fly too much, and be there fighting all the time. This is the only thing I am able to do."

Longo Borghini, who won four individual races in 2021, including the GP Plouay and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, said that she would like to go to the inaugural Tour de France Femmes with an "open role".

"I would like to go there with an open mind and also an open role," she explained. "If you just focus on the overall, then you put too much pressure on yourself. It's good to be there and just dive into the race, and see what's happening at every stage, and try and get away with a stage win."

The strength of Trek-Segafredo comes from its "unity", Longo Borghini has said, explaining that the environment within the team is "really good".

"We have a very good strong point, which is our unity. We can switch roles during the race pretty easily, and the environment is really good. We like to race for each other and with each other, and it can be natural who is the leader. Sometime we decide during the race too."

There will be a new Italian at Trek-Segafredo in 2021, another Elisa, Elisa Balsamo. The young rider won the World Championship road race for Italy back in September.

The pair have a good relationship, according to Longo Borghini, as they come from the same police department and they raced the Italian championships together.

"I think Elisa is a very talented rider, as you can see," she said. "I have always had an eye on her when she was younger, because in my opinion she can still grow a lot and grow into a very good classics rider. I'm very happy to have her on the team."

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Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over my professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.