Puck Pieterse rides some ways ahead of the peloton during a race in Italy

Let’s hear it for the attackers

Take a glance at the results of Trofeo Alfredo Binda and you'd think it was a reduced sprint, but before the finish the day was nonstop attacks.

Puck Pieterse would have won the Most Active Rider award on top of finishing third at Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

Abby Mickey
by Abby Mickey 17.03.2024 Photography by
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Trofeo Alfredo Binda, as it usually is, was a start-to-finish action. The race’s finale leans towards a sprint, with a 7 km flat run into a slightly uphill yet fast finale, but the 17-ish km long circuit that makes up most of the race has enough climbing that the rest of the peloton can smell their own victory. And, because the race completes the circuit five times, it makes for great bike racing.

If you were to glance at FirstCycling’s results after the race you’d think, “Oh ya, it was a reduced bunch sprint,” because that’s what it was, but that seconds-long look hardly does justice to the riders who animated the race all day long.

For the second weekend in a row, Puck Pieterse (Fenix-Deceuninck) demonstrated that she was not taking her move to road racing lightly. She attacked as much as she possibly could; on one occasion with 32 km to go the motos couldn’t get out of the way fast enough, and she was able to stay away for an almost worrying – to her chasers, at least – amount of time.

Pieterse then went on to get third on the day, and if you think about how much energy she expended throughout the race making sure everyone was awake, it’s pretty impressive for someone who has up until this season stuck to cyclocross. When she eventually does get a better idea of where to use her matches the peloton is in big trouble.

Pieterse’s longest-running move was eventually joined by another Active Rider of the Day, Niamh Fisher-Black, who was probably the most seen SD Worx-Protime rider of the race apart from Marlen Reusser, who is hard to miss. That’s saying a lot when Lotte Kopecky is somewhere in and amongst the peloton.

Niamh Fisher-Black rides in a solo breakaway at Trofeo Alfredo Binda. The pack is close behind, partly obscured by a TV moto righ ton her wheel.
Niamh Fisher-Black is on some striking form right now, but with a competition break looming we may not get to see it again until the Ardennes Classics.

The rider from New Zealand is just 23 but already in her fourth season on the Dutch team. She’s had some successes along the way, but rarely gets a chance to go all in for herself. The only downside of the striking form she showed on Sunday is that we likely won’t see her in the peloton again for a few weeks. But, the way she was nose-breathing as she left the rest of the peloton behind on the climbs bodes well for the Kiwi’s season.

Reusser made a few attacks, none of them the critical hits we’ve seen in the past, but she is on the road to recovery after a bout of COVID-19 so that doesn’t say much about what her impact will be on the upcoming Classics.

Next to Fisher-Black and Pieterse, two other riders impressed. Neve Bradbury, recently second behind Kopecky on the queen stage of the UAE Tour, is now trying to make a move at the European one-days. The Aussie on Canyon-SRAM threw down multiple attacks, and although they weren’t quite as effective as she may have liked, it was nice to see her giving it a go. Of course, her teammate Elise Chabbey also had a crack, but that’s about as newsworthy as a sunset (she does it a lot, and we love to see it).

The final attack of the day was by Mareille Meijering of Movistar. The 29-year-old is a kind-of-new signing for the Spanish team. She moved over from Zaaf last year when everything was going down there. Her list of results up until a week ago was pretty lean, with only a few top 10s in some one-day races in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2022. Already in 2024, she won the overall at the Vuelta Extremadura Féminas after winning the second stage solo ahead of Gaia Realini.

Her late race move was caught with only 1 km remaining in the race, a pretty close call for Kopecky and the Lidl-Trek team of eventual winner Elisa Balsamo, and a caution to the wind moment for Meijering.

There were a few good attacks from Pieterse’s teammate Yara Kastelijn, some earlier action from DSM Firmenich-PostNL, and a move by FDJ-Suez’s Jade Wiel ,but overall the majority of the attempts came from the riders mentioned above. One of the reasons bike racing is so awesome, right? We have the winner, Balsamo, who was incredible in the finish, but we also have a handful of riders who showed good form and animated the race, riders who would have thought, even for a moment, that it could have been their day out there and who will come back to fight again on new roads soon.

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