The 21-year-old Trek-Segafredo rider finished 12th in the uphill finish in Escalona, four seconds behind winner Lorena Wiebes (Team Sunweb).
Most riders are looking forward to ending their season on Sunday in Madrid after the three-day race but Paternoster is happy to be back in the saddle. She was one of just four Trek-Segafredo riders in action along with new Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Ellen van Dijk.
The Madrid Challenge is her first race of the season in Trek-Segafredo colours and only her second road race after riding the Italian national championships at the weekend in the Fiamme Azzurre colours of the Italian military sports team.
Paternoster began to suffer with a knee problem after riding the UCI Track World Championships in February. She spent the spring lockdown at home in northern Italy but then was unable to return to serious train or racing.
“I feel good now but I’ve never been so low. Everything seemed difficult and I was worried I’d never be able to pick myself up,” she admitted to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I’ve been out of action for five months. It wasn’t easy to understand what the problem was and how to resolve it.”
“I’ve learnt who the important people in my life are. People like my manager Manuel Quinziato and my coach Dario Broccardo.. The team was also very supportive and i’m happy to have extended my contract for another two years.”
Trek-Segafredo confirmed their 2021 roster this week, announcing the ten riders who will be staying with the programme; Elynor Bäckstedt, Lucinda Brand, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Lauretta Hanson, Letizia Paternoster, Shirin van Anrooij, who sign on as a trainee this August, Ellen van Dijk, Tayler Wiles, Ruth Winder and Trixi Worrack.
Chloe Hosking and Amalie Dideriksen are the only two new signings for 2021.
Paternoster will not compete in next week’s European track championships but plans to be back to her best and fight for a place in the Italian team for the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer.
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