Australia may have missed out on a medal in the women’s road events in the Tokyo Olympic Games, with Grace Brown edged into fourth in the women’s time trial despite a valiant effort, but the two rides by Sarah Gigante in the road race and TT provided huge encouragement for the future.
Gigante, 20, was 40th in the women’s road race and 11th in the time trial on Wednesday. She briefly sat in the hot seat in the women’s 22.1 kilometre test but was eventually pushed down the standings with Annemiek van Vleuten storming to the gold medal.
Gigante finished 2:48 off the winning time but her dogged rides in both events were impressive outings in her first Games, not least because of the heavy injuries that she sustained in a crash at La Fleche Wallonne back in April. The fall had left her with fractures to her collarbone, leg, and elbow and her Games participation looked to be in severe doubt.
“I’m so proud of my performance,” she told reporters at the finish of the time trial when asked to look back at her Olympics in Tokyo. “I couldn’t have done anything more. I gave it everything today and the whole lead up. Considering that I had a really bad crash three months ago, breaking my leg, collarbone and elbow. I came eleventh but it’s everything that I had so I’m proud.”
Gigante started the time trial in a typically strong fashion, cutting through corners at pace and climbing well. Australia's national champion in the discipline admitted that the humid conditions hadn’t been a factor and that the course had dried up for her at the perfect time.
“It was a really tough race but the conditions weren’t too bad compared to the rest of the week. We had it pretty lucky and it started to spit when I was in the tent waiting for the start but then it dried up just as I started, so I was pretty happy with that,” she added. “I was in the hotseat for a long time because I went off early but I saw the intermediate time splits and how fast they all were I swapped the chair for Grace. It was still nice to sit in the hotseat.”
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.