Sarah Gigante: It’s a dream compared to this time last year

Australian set to make her European season debut at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Clock01:37, Friday 15th March 2024
Sarah Gigante won the Tour Down Under in January

© Getty Images

Sarah Gigante won the Tour Down Under in January

After a dream start to her year with a stage win and the overall victory at the Tour Down Under in January, Sarah Gigante (AG Insurance-Soudal) is set to make her European season debut at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda on Sunday.

The 23-year-old spoke to GCN from her base in Girona, Spain, before making the short trip to Italy, and confirmed her participation in the Ardennes Classics and her maiden Grand Tour voyage at the Vuelta Femenina in April.

“It’s been a pretty solid training block. Because I was so determined to be flying in the early part of the season, I didn’t really have an off-season last year. I was training the house down in October so I had a couple of easy weeks in February. I spent that time in Australia, which was nice and then over the last month I’ve been getting back into a lot of volume, so Binda will be a stepping stone to the Ardennes, with Flèche and Liege, and then the Vuelta,” she told GCN.

“It’s a dream compared to this time last year, which was awful. To be here, and to be training my heart out, I’m just loving it. I always loved the bike but you’re just more grateful when you’re healthy after bad times in the past.”

Read more: ‘I knew it was coming’ - Sarah Gigante completes emotional comeback with Tour Down Under victory

Gigante only raced once in Europe in 2023 with health problems derailing several campaigns before her off-season switch from Movistar to AG Insurance-Soudal. Binda was her maiden European race in 2021 but she enters this year’s edition with a totally new outlook but the same unbound enthusiasm that has epitomised her during her career. Gigante isn’t putting pressure on herself as she did at the Tour Down Under, where she announced that she was in the form of her life heading into the race, but instead sees this weekend’s race as a marker before more ambitious goals in the spring. 

“I’m just excited to get started with the team in Europe. Of course, it was wonderful to race with them in Australia but it’s always an exciting moment to be lining up with them in Europe and on the other side of the world. I’m looking forward to racing with the teammates I’ve not raced with before and hopefully, I can help the team. We have some really strong options, even with Ashleigh Moolman [Pasio] not there. I saw how Kim [Le Court] was riding at Strade Bianche, and she’ll be one to watch,” she said.

“I’m not sure about my role for Sunday. It’ll be a surprise when I get there. I’m not in top form like I was in Australia. I’ve still been working really hard, so hopefully I’ll be able to contribute something. I just don’t know if I’ll be one attacking, helping, or chasing. I know I won’t be sprinting. Whatever my role, I’ll try my best to execute it.”

Part of Gigante’s excitement stems from the fact that, unlike in previous seasons, she now has a scheduled programme of races to build towards, and with no hurdles, injuries or health issues, she can plan properly for the block of racing ahead. Her only previous Ardennes outing came in 2021 and ended prematurely with a broken collarbone in Flèche Wallonne. This time around she’ll make the trip back to Flèche before making her debut at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. On paper, both races suit her aggressive climbing characteristics perfectly.

“I’m so excited, especially with doing races that really suit me. And to have targets. So in January I already knew my race plan up until the Vuelta. Just having those long-term goals has been awesome. It’s been helpful for my coach, but also mentally it’s been nice. I love training but it was not to worry about having a couple of easy weeks in February. Now, having the focus and goals, and a calendar written down, is a really good feeling.”

All being well, Gigante will make her Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta at the end of April. It will represent a major moment in her career, and while objectives for that race are still undefined, she is eager to test herself on such an important stage. There is also a possibility of racing either the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift later this year 

“I’ve never done a Grand Tour, so the first feeling is excitement. I’m just so happy about being there, and I didn’t expect to be. If you asked me last year if I was going to do a Grand Tour this year, I would have said no way. But last week I was timing my training ride around when the Vuelta route was going to be announced, and I was sitting in my apartment watching a Spanish YouTube channel live. I’m just super pumped.”

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