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BUNINYONG, Australia (CT) – She’s only 19 years old but already Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) has won two elite national titles.
Today, nearly a year after her remarkable win in the 2019 Nationals road race, Gigante scorched around a new time trial course near Buninyong to become Australia’s new elite and U23 time trial champion.
Gigante had the third-fastest time after the first of two laps of the challenging, undulating course. Ahead of her sat reigning National Road Series champion Emily Herfoss (nee Roper – 17 seconds) and defending champion Grace Brown (nine seconds ahead). But over the second lap Gigante made up time on all her rivals, storming home with a time of 42:41 for the 28.6 km course (40.2 kph average).
“I’m absolutely stoked,” said a breathless Gigante after the finish. “I just can’t believe I was able to win the elite time trial. I don’t think I’ve beaten any of the ladies that came in the top five in a time trial before and probably only beaten them once in a race before, at last year’s Nationals [road race].”
A disappointed Brown (Mitchelton- Scott) finished with the second fastest time, 9.1 seconds down on Gigante. Herfoss (Roxsolt-Attaquer) faded a little but held on for third, just 1.2 seconds behind Brown. With the top three separated by little more than 10 seconds, it was the closest elite women’s time trial in recent memory.
In Gigante’s eyes, she mightn’t have won were it not for some careful reconnaissance of the new course — a course that included the fast and technical descent of Fisken Road.
“Thank you very much to my auntie Peter and Pauline — they live on the hill and I came came across a few times … thanks to mum for taking me,” Gigante said. “I did that descent lots and lots of times just to try to practice taking it in the aerobars and just going flat out the whole way down, not braking.
“There was only 10 seconds between the whole podium so yeah, if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
The U23 women’s podium wasn’t quite as close. Jaime Gunning took out the silver medal, 2:20 behind Gigante (10th in the combined field), while Emily Watts was third at 4:08 (13th overall).
Beating Gunning had been a goal for Gigante. She achieved that and then some.
“I was hoping to do well in the U23 race and I know Jamie Gunning’s really strong at time trials so I was hoping I could get one up on her this time around,” Gigante said. “Last year I came seventh in the elite time trials. I was really hoping … top five I would have been really stoked with.”
Gigante will go into Sunday’s road race as the defending champion and one of the riders to beat.
* U23 riders
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