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Gigante returns to racing with Movistar debut at Nokere Koerse

Sarah Gigante (right) riding at training camp with her new teammates in Spain in January 2022
Sarah Gigante (Movistar) riding at training camp with her new teammates in Spain in January 2022 (Image credit: Photo Gomez Sport/ Movistar)

It has been nearly eight months since Sarah Gigante has lined up to start a race, with myopericarditis first keeping her out of the peloton and then COVID-19 delaying a planned Australian racing return. Now it looks like the wait is over, with the new Movistar signing set to make her debut with the team at Danilith Nokere Koerse on Wednesday March 16.

The 21-year-old was one of the biggest signings in the women’s peloton for 2022 as the rider first turned heads when at 18 she won the Australian elite national road title and then in subsequent years continued to prove it was more than a one-off, regularly coming out ahead of the nation’s top elite professional riders when they came back to race on home shores.

However, Gigante, who raced with TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank the last two years, has not yet had the opportunity to make a mark in Europe with injuries, health issues and the COVID-19 pandemic throwing continuous hurdles in her path. If all goes as planned this year, the promising young rider is set to begin her first full, uninterrupted European season this week.

“Who's got the biggest grin this Monday? We're certain it's @SarahGigante,” said Movistar on the team’s Twitter account. “We're so happy to see Sarah making her Movistar Team debut at @NokereKoerse on Wednesday.”

The rider, who is fiercely competitive on the bike but quick to break out in a smile off it, was set to ease into her season in Australia as she worked her way back to race fitness following a long period off the bike as she recovered from myopericarditis, a combination of an inflammation of the heart muscle and pericardium, a sac surrounding the heart.

Defending her national time trial title at the January Road National Championships was out of the question as it was too early in her recovery, but she had been scheduled to line up in the National Road Series in February at the Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland and the 160km Lochard Energy Women’s Warrnambool Classic. However, she tested positive to COVID-19 so ended up in isolation instead.

That meant her restart shifted to Europe, where she will be lining up at Danilith Nokere Koerse alongside her new teammates Jelena Erić, Aude Biannic, Barbara Guarischi, Alicia González and Lourdes Oyarbide. There Gigante will be taking on 126-kilometres in the 1.Pro race which is based around the cobbled Nokereberg climb, with the finish coming at the top of the hill on the third and final ascent.

“The nervecitement has hit me very early this time,” said the enthusiastic Gigante on Twitter, who often refers to that combination of nerves and excitement that hits before a big event.

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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.