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HARELBEKE, Belgium (VN) — Chiara Consonni is excited at the prospect of going up against her former teammate Elisa Balsamo in the sprints after claiming her first victory of the year at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday.
Consonni, who is 22, and Balsamo were teammates from 2017 through 2021 at the Italian Valcar-Travel & Service squad until the latter stepped up to the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo. They also raced together on the track as part of Italy’s strong team pursuit squad.
They are good friends off the bike, but they are now rivals on it and Consonni is relishing the chance to race against Balsamo again this season. The pair has done so three times so far, with Balsamo dominating her rivals — not just Consonni — of late.
“Elisa is now the best rider in the world and maybe I want to also fight with her because it’s nice for me, not only help her but fight and it motivates me. Maybe I also want to show my fight,” Consonni said Wednesday.
“I am super happy for Elisa, and she has a good team. Now I have my chance to do my sprint. We have grown together and I’m happy when she wins, and I also think the opposite.”
Consonni’s Dwars door Vlaanderen victory continues the run of Italian victories that began with Balsamo, bringing it to four-in-a-row. With Balsamo and her teammate Elisa Longo Borghini in very good form, that could well continue into the weekend at the Tour of Flanders.
Closer to home, Consonni also praised the performances of her teammate Silvia Persico, the Italian cyclocross champion who took top 10 placings at Gent-Wevelgem, Trofeo Alfredo Bina, and Strade Bianche in 2022.
“It’s good for Italian cycling, not only for us but the whole Italian team. My teammate Silvia Persico was also so strong in this first part of the year. We wanted to show that we are good, we are good riders, and we can do this,” she said.
“It is also good for the sponsors and for the people who follow us from the first day to the end of the year. We are super happy for this, and this is also good for our fans who have been there since the beginning.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen saw a heavily reduced sprint Wednesday after yet another brutally aggressive race. With plenty of interest in preventing a sprint from happening in Waregem, there was a string of attacks over the climbs.
Consonni had to work hard to keep within the lead group as its numbers rapidly dwindled with each attack. After being dropped by the bunch in similar conditions, Consonni didn’t want the same thing to happen again, but it was a tough challenge.
“Last Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem, I didn’t feel good, so I wanted to start today to increase my feeling and my legs, my condition,” Consonni said. “I’m super happy. I am super happy because I only started with this goal, to increase my level, but I am super happy to do my sprint and get a win.
“On the last cobbles, I was further back, and to get into the first group was hard but afterward and in the final kilometer there were a lot of attacks. I tried to follow one, but on the second one, I was a little bit full-gas. After the group came back together and I did my sprint the best.”
Consonni is set to ride at the Tour of Flanders this weekend and Scheldeprijs next Wednesday, she has some big ambitions further down the line at Paris-Roubaix where she finished 30th last year.
“My next goals point to Paris-Roubaix because last year was hard and very emotional and this will be my next big goal,” she said.