Peloton Watch
  Elisa Balsamo chasing experience at Track Worlds after four junior world titles  
  April 10th 2017  
  Elisa Balsamo after winning the omnium at the 2016 Junior Track World Championships. Photo: Guy Swarbrick  
  Italy's Elisa Balsamo will make her elite Track World Championship debut in Hong Kong this week, following an outstanding two years as a junior. Balsamo who claimed four world titles as a junior, three on the track and one on the road is looking forward to racing against the best in the world.

After winning the junior scratch world title in 2015, Balsamo added the team pursuit in a world record time and omnium crowns on the track before adding the road world title in 2016.

In her elite debut at the European Track Championships last October, she got off to a flying start taking gold in the team pursuit. Before impressing in the omnium with a fourth place finish behind Katie Archibald, Kirsten Wild and Lotte Kopecky. Before adding World Cup silver in the team

The 19-year-old is carrying good form to Hong Kong after finishing second in the omnium at the Belgian International Track Meeting, to Kirsten Wild but beat World Cup winner Lotte Kopecky and two-time world champion Sarah Hammer.

While 2017 may be about gaining experience don't be surprised to see Balsamo challenging for the podium. Where she is down to line up in the omnium, Madison and team pursuit.

How did your first start cycling and how old were you?

I was seven years old and I had a crash with in my first race with another rider. I arrived walking and carrying my bike.

2016 was your second year in the under 19 category after winning the scratch race world title in 2015 do you think that experience helped you in 2016?

Yes, it helped me both in competition than in training at home.

European Champion in the team pursuit and omnium breaking the TP World Record in the process what did it mean to you and did it give you confidence ahead of the Junior Track World Championships?

Yes, because I felt that I was ready to compete at international level and knew how to improve for the World Championships.

Won the team pursuit world title after a tough battle with New Zealand. After being disqualified in 2015 what did it mean to stand on the top step of the podium as the world champion?

After breaking the TP World Record in Montichiari we knew that we had a good chances for the World Championship but the victory is never sure until the end. For me to stand on the top step of the podium has been a big return match for all the Italian team.

Produced a dominant display in the omnium over the first five events. What was your plan for the points race and how did it play out for you?

We decided to make it a hard competition on the New Zealand girl [Michaela Drummond] that was second and pay attention so that no one could gain a lap.

Unleashed your powerful sprint to win the junior world title on the road. Had a lot of support from your team what did it mean to win a third world title in 2016?

The victory was the result of great teamwork. The entire world could watch the race on TV and that is very important for women's cycling.

Made the step up to the elite ranks at the European Track Championships where you won the team pursuit. Only a few months after winning the under 19 title couldn't have asked for a better start in the elite category?

Yes, it was wonderful! I have to say thank you to the national coach for giving me this opportunity.

Also raced the omnium where you finished fourth behind Katie Archibald, Kirsten Wild and Lotte Kopecky how did you find the step up from juniors?

It was hard but I think that track competition is easier that on the road. On the track the problem is not the longer distanced of the races as on the road, but the unbelievable accelerations that the elite riders can do compared to juniors.

Finished second to Kirsten Wild at the Belgian International Track Meeting finishing ahead of former World Champion Sarah Hammer and World Cup winner Lotte Kopecky how the racing go for you? Can you take confidence from the result?

It was a surprise for me to finish second in such an important competition and I am very happy and satisfied. I was very quiet in the competition and without pressures because for me was important to get the experience.

UCI has changed the format of the omnium taking the timed events out making it a four-event one day competition. You have had a couple of opportunities to race it now against strong competition what are your thoughts on it? Do you think it suits you?

For me the old format was better because I like the timed event but I'm working to improve and make gain experience in the new format.

What does it mean to be selected in the Italian team for the Track World Championships in your first year out of juniors? Something you were obviously working towards but did you expect it?

I trained hard in the winter and it was my hope to be selected for Track World Championships, I didn't expect it and now I will try to do my best in the competition.

What are you most looking forward to about Worlds and what do you think the biggest challenges will be?

I am looking forward to racing with the best riders in the world, understand how strong they are and so in the future I will be able to get at the same level.

Looking a bit further ahead what are your goals over the next few years? Is the omnium a big goal you are working towards for the 2020 Olympics?

The first big goal is the Track World Championships in Hong Kong. I'm very happy to be selected in the national team. Sure Tokyo 2020 is the big goal for the future and sure I will be working hard both for omnium and team pursuit.
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