Australia’s Sarah Gigante (TIBCO-Silicon Valley) has already made a mark in the debut race of her first solid international season, stepping into the blue jersey of the leader of the youth classification in the Women’s WorldTour at Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
The 20-year old rider, who already has a list of Australian titles to her name, came across the line in 23rd at the first European Women’s WorldTour race of her career, looking far more at home than in her previous short international forays and as if she’s carrying some of the formidable form from her Australian season.
“Tanja Erath and Leah Dixon were crucial in helping to position us early on, and then Lauren Stephens was a great road captain for Eri Yonamine and me as we got further into the race,” Gigante said. “I tried to attack the last climbs in a last ditch attempt to catch the leaders, but in the end, we finished in a big group of chasers, with Lauren in a strong 16th and me a bit behind in 23rd.”
It’s a season the Australian time trial champion, in an earlier interview with Cyclingnews, characterised as a year for learning and helping the team rather than results. However, given her regular position near the front, willingness to attack and place in the severely reduced peloton it looks like she is learning quickly.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) won the race on the hilly course around Varese after escaping solo, while the chase group of five swept up the rest of the podium positions, with Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) coming second and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) in third. Gigante came in with the next group of 27, which included many who had been considered strong contenders, including Strade Bianche winner Chantal van den Broek-Blaak and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of SD Worx, Lizzie Deignan (Trek Segafredo), Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange) and Leah Thomas (Movistar Team Women).
It’s a long way from the DNF that Gigante started her European season with in 2020, which was meant to be her neo-pro year but got cut short at three international races as the COVID-19 pandemic stymied her plans. It also lead to the cancellation of the early season international races in Australia but she made the most of a national road series replacement event, winning the overall and two stages at the four-stage Santos Festival of Cycling, and she also won the Australian time trial title for a second year running.
The rider, however, wasn’t expecting to swap the dark blue of her TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank kit for the lighter shades of the Women’s WorldTour jersey at her first race in Europe in 2021.
“It’s a special feeling to be in the lead of the Women’s WorldTour Young Rider Classification too, which came as a complete surprise after the race,” Gigante said. “Bring on the next one!”