Multi-time Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini will not be able to compete at the UCI Road World Championships next week, due to treatment for a skin infection on her left leg which caused her to withdraw from the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift prior to stage 7.
It would have been Longo Borghini’s 12th appearance at the world championships for road cycling, where she has a pair of road race bronze medals from 2012 and 2020.
The confirmation of the reigning Italian champion, in both the road race and the time trial, was made by her Lidl-Trek trade team. She had hoped to wear the Italian colours in Glasgow for the elite women’s events, which begin Aug 10 with the 35.2km individual time trial and then conclude August 13 for the 154.1km road race.
“Elisa is suffering from a deep skin infection in the upper left thigh area. It’s a serious infectious process that cannot be underestimated in any way. These symptoms are causing pain and fever that are still keeping her at home in bed, therefore an intense antibiotic treatment has become necessary and will last for at least a week from today,” said Lidl-Trek’s head doctor Gaetano Daniele on the team website.
Longo Borghini was on top form this season, having defended her national time trial championship and taken the road race title back for a fourth time. She was making a comeback from a crash at the Giro d’Italia Donne last week when the skin infection put her in hospital for treatment and she had to withdraw from the Tour de France Femmes, sitting fourth on GC.
“I can hardly find the words to explain my current state of mind. Mentally, it’s a heavy blow, which unfortunately comes in an already troubled season. The fact that I had to come home from the Tour was a huge disappointment, because I felt I had a great finale in my legs. It was painful, I won’t deny that,” said Longo Borghini in a team statement.
“Although the blows, physical and psychological, always hurt, I never got down and I only want to look ahead. Stopping at this point of the season was the last thing I wanted, but the priority must be my health. I am focused on healing and recovering at my best. Giving up the Worlds is painful, but also the only choice I had. I will be rooting hard for my teammates.”
Longo Borghini was the team’s top GC rider going into the final weekend of the Tour de France Femmes, and she was part of a trio of riders sitting 55 seconds behind race leader Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) in fourth overall headed to the penultimate stage and the signature climb of Col du Tourmalet waiting. However, she never made it to the start line as she withdrew with the skin infection that required her to have treatment at hospital after stage 6.
”The Italian champion has a skin infection at the top of the left thigh, which required hospital treatment after Stage 6 but is now under control. However, she is still in a considerable amount of pain and in the interest of her long-term health, the decision was made that she will not race any further,” the team stated at the time in France.
Now the Lidl-Trek team doctor says she must complete treatment and may be able to ride her bike again, not race, in just over a week.
“The priority is that she can benefit from the treatment and feel better as soon as possible. For the duration of the treatment, it’s not possible to consider any training. At best, if the antibiotic treatment brings the desired results, Elisa could return to ride without intensity in about ten days. Then, we can start talking about a return to competition,” Doctor Daniele stated.
“We monitor the development of the situation on a daily basis and, in a few days, we have scheduled an ultrasound scan of the area affected by the infection to see if the treatment is having an effect or if a different intervention is required.”
The 31-year-old Italian champion won a bronze medal in the road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games to go with her pair of bronzes from previous Worlds road races.
Two of Longo Borghini’s Trek-Lidl teammates will participate in the elite women’s road race for the Italian National Team, former World Champion Elisa Balsamo and Ilaria Sanguineti. Also on the team are Chiara Consonni, Silvia Persico and Eleonora Gasparrini (UAE Team ADQ), Elena Cecchini and Barbara Guarischi (Team SD Worx), Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM Racing) and Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-SUEZ). Guazzini and Alessia Vigilia (Top Girls Sports Group) will compete in the time trial for elite women.