Skip to main content

Sarah Gigante plans to rediscover race legs in Australia

Sarah Gigante settling into her new team, Movistar, on the January training camp 2022
Sarah Gigante settling into her new team, Movistar, on the January training camp 2022 (Image credit: Photo Gomez Sport/Movistar)

The year of 2021 may have been one of the biggest of Sarah Gigante’s young cycling career, between an Olympic Games and signing with WorldTeam Movistar, but it has also been one where broken bones and recovery from myopericarditis means racing has been thin on the ground. As a result the 21-year-old has decided to ease back into competition on the familiar roads of Australia's National Road Series (NRS) before becoming immersed in the European peloton with her new team.

Gigante is planning to start racing again at the three-day Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland beginning on Sunday February 13, before taking on the 160km Lochard Energy Women’s Warrnambool Classic on Sunday February 20, the inaugural women’s specific event set to alongside the traditional Melbourne to Warrnambool.

“This is an important step on my pathway back to the pro peloton,” said Gigante in a statement put out by the two NRS races. “Nothing can quite compare to hurtling along narrow cobbled roads in Belgium in a huge European peloton, however the aggressive and punchy racing here will hopefully help me find my race legs again before I join Movistar in the Women's World Tour!”

Gigante hasn’t raced since the Tokyo Olympic Games, where she represented Australia in the road race and then went on to come 11th in the time trial. However, following the event she had a continued health problem, which saw her in and out of hospital and was eventually revealed as myopericarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle and sac surrounding the heart. Before the Olympics, she had also had an extended racing lay-off after a Flèche Wallonne crash in April that left the former TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank with breaks to her collarbone, elbow and fibula.

“About last year, all I can say is that broken bones are a walk in the park! I broke three bones, including one in my leg, earlier in 2021, but that was just a bump in the road compared to what happened later,” said Gigante. “I'm totally fine now though, more resilient and more patient, and more excited than ever.” 

Gigante had spent time recovering on familiar roads in Australia late in 2021, initially on an electric bike, before heading over to join her new team on their training camp in January as she worked toward regaining fitness for the 2022 season. 

“My illness last year was certainly the toughest period I've been through, and I missed the freedom of good health and being able to ride to my heart's content more than I can describe,” said Gigante. “Now that I'm back, I realise my experience last year has made me much more appreciative. I already loved cycling more than anything, but I will never ever take it for granted again."

Before being signed with TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank and then Movistar, Gigante first showed her strength as a rider in the NRS and at the Australian Road National Championships, where she snatched her first elite national title as an 18 year old. The top domestic race series, however, has faced two years of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns plus internal border closures. As a result this year’s edition of the Tour of Gippsland will be the first since 2019, when Emily Herfoss won and Gigante came seventh overall. 

As the NRS, which started at the Santos Festival of Cycling, continues the Women’s Cycling Classic from Colac to Warrnambool is set to add a new dimension to the women’s calendar. The 160km long one-day race has been introduced as a separate event for the women for the first time, taking another step in the development of the race after Lauretta Hanson in 2015 became the first officially recognised winner of the women’s category, which was raced within the traditional 267km Melbourne to Warrnambool (M2W). Gigante also raced the traditional event as an 18-year-old in 2019.

“My main goal for both the M2W and Gippsland is to simply have fun and enjoy the thrill and excitement of racing my bike again,” said Gigante.

“I'm feeling surprisingly good on the bike and I do know that every NRS round is hard-fought with many strong and aggressive racers keen to give it their all. I've looked at the routes for the two upcoming races, so I expect a close battle between many riders and teams.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Simone Giuliani

Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.