After winning Dwars door Vlaanderen, Chiara Consonni admitted that she did not think she would sprint for the win at the start of the day.
The Italian Valcar-Travel & Service rider won in Waregem on Wednesday to take the biggest victory of her career. The win kept up the trend of Italians winning elite bike races, as she followed her former team-mate Elisa Balsamo in triumphing at a Belgian Classic.
Post-race, Consonni said that the trend was good "not only for us, but the whole Italian team." She said: "My team-mates also, like Silvia Persico has been so strong in this first part of this year. We want to show that we are good, we are good riders, and we can do this."
Describing today as a "tough race", the 22-year-old said: "I didn't think at the start that I would be in the sprint. So I'm happy with my feeling and my legs, with this."
This was her first win of the season, but followed six top-seven finishes already this season. Consonni said: "Last Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem, I felt good, so I wanted to start today because I wanted to increase my feelings, my legs, and my conditions for maybe a future objective. I'm super happy. I started with only this thing, to do my best, but I'm super happy to do a sprint and win."
She said she was "super happy" for Balsamo, her former team-mate, who has won four races this year in her world champion's jersey.
"This year, I know Elisa is now the best rider in the world," she said. "Maybe I want to also fight with her because it's nice for me and not only help her but fight. It motivates me.
"I think now I have my chance to do my sprint, and we've grown together, and I'm glad when she wins and I think also the opposite."
The young rider will now target Paris-Roubaix in just over a fortnight, after describing last year's inaugural edition as "hard and emotional".
Consonni was not the only Italian to think Wednesday's race was hard. Elisa Longo Borghini described it as "really fought from the beginning to the end".
The Trek-Segafredo rider said: "We wanted to have a race where everybody could have a chance. So, we tried attacks with me with Ellen [van Dijk]... in the end it was a very aggressive race."
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