• Sarah Gigante of TIBCO-SVB at the top of Tomewin climb (Jamie Finch-Penninger)Source: Jamie Finch-Penninger
Sarah Gigante blitzed her way into the record books with a stunning ride that saw her leave the rest of the peloton behind to solo to victory by seven minutes and 51 seconds on one of the hardest stages of the National Road Series' nine days of racing to decide the 2020 season.
By
SBS Cycling Central

2 Dec 2020 - 7:04 AM 

Gigante (TIBCO-SVB) is riding as an individual in this race, and had to overcome some team tactics seemingly arrayed against the expectation that the pint-sized rider from Melbourne was expected to be the strongest climber at the summit finish of Tomewin.

Gigante had to nullify an early attack containing riders from all the major teams, before attacking herself, going solo with 55 kilometres of the race remaining and increasing her lead on an elite chasing group that included the stars of UCI-registered squad Roxsolt and National Road Series perennial favourites Specialized Women's Racing as well as NRS leader Nicole Frain (Sydney Uni-Staminade).

It was a quality field, and while they had reasons why they might not chase absolutely as hard as they could with the overall NRS team classification and the race to the minor placings quite important in that, there were riders being dropped from that group as the chase continued in earnest. 

Gigante's performance of the very hilly loop around Bilambil had her over four minutes ahead by the time they finished their final lap and turned to head out to the summit finish of Tomewin. Gigante never let up, ploughing a consistent, lone, hard pace at the front of the race and even when it came to the finishing climb of five kilometres at 6.6 per cent, Gigante was still pushing hard, in the end setting one of the fastest times recorded for the Strava segment.

In the end the margin was seven minutes and 51 seconds, with Gigante standing by the finish, doing some interviews, including the one below, and then staying to cheer on all the riders as they finished one by one behind the effusive young star of Australian cycling.

"It was so hard," said Gigante. "I didn't think it was going to be that hot! I knew it was going to be hot, I'd seen the forecast, but being out there time-trialling all day it was pretty crazy.

"It was hard from the start. We had some teams get in a breakaway on the flat before the laps. All the teams were in the break so I had to bridge to that with a couple of Roxsolt girls in there. Then, on the first climb, I thought I'd do as my coach suggested and attack. There were nine climbs then this hilltop finish, I attacked on the first one.

"I couldn't get away on the first one, but did get away on the third one, still the first lap. I put another lap in to get a gap there and I was hoping that someone else would come, or a small group. But it was just me, myself and I!

"So I just time-trialled all day. It was so hard and so fun."

Gigante's enthusiastic attitude is a bright ray of optimism within the sport, and clearly behind some of her success. She trained hard throughout lockdown, in a year where, rather than her living room, she was expecting to go to Europe in her first full season in the WorldTour with TIBCO-SVB. 

It is a far cry from the cobbles of Belgium of the steep slopes of the Giro Rosa, but the rainforests, canefields and tough roads of the Tweed Valley saw a performance that will stand in Australian cycling history as one of the most emphatic wins in memory. 

"I thought last year at the Tour of Tassie, I thought that was my last NRS," said Gigante, whose winning ride at that race was her first at NRS level. "But I'm back here and it's fun to be winning!"

"I knew I had a big gap by the end, but I kept pushing, seeing what I could get my Garmin to say at the end."

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