It has been a long time between races for Sarah Gigante and just when it looked like she would be ready to pin a number on again her return to the peloton has been delayed, with the Movistar rider testing positive to COVID-19 on Saturday.
The 21-year-old hasn’t raced since the Olympic Games in July 2021, when the alarming heart symptoms she was experiencing were found to be myopericarditis. The Victorian rider was due to ease back into racing in Australia, lining up in the National Road Series at the Mitchelton Tour of Gippsland, starting on Sunday February 13, and the 160km Lochard Energy Women’s Warrnambool Classic on Sunday February 20. Now, however, she is in isolation with COVID-19 and will have her race re-start delayed for at least seven days.
"I am saddened that I cannot be on the start line this week," said Gigante in a Facebook post from the Tour of Gippsland., "But I will be keenly watching the racing from isolation, keeping up with results and seeing how my friends and rivals are going in Gippsland."
Gigante was training with her new team in Spain earlier this year but, having returned home to Australia, decided the NRS racing would be a good stepping stone toward returning to the pro-peloton and joining Movistar in the Womens’ WorldTour.
There is still hope that Gigante will get some NRS racing in before returning to Europe with the first edition of the stand-alone Women’s Warrnambool Classic remaining a possible option.
"I'm disappointed, the timing is not great,” said Gigante of her positive test and consequent inability to race the Tour of Gippsland. “But I am feeling OK and will follow all the guidelines to be back in a week."
It has been two seasons filled with disruption for the two-time Australian time trial champion, who was unable to defend this year because of her health problems. The rider burst out of the junior ranks in 2019 and took out the Australian road race title on her very first time racing in the combined U23 and elite event and subsequently signed with TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank.
In 2020 it was the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting Australian border closure that held her back, while in 2021 she not only had to face myopericarditis but when she raced the Olympic Games was also just returning from a three month injury break after a Flèche Wallonne crash in April that left her with breaks to her collarbone, elbow and fibula. Nevertheless, she managed 11th in the time trial in Tokyo, her first outing in the race against the clock at a major international 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.