'This is just the beginning' says Realini after Vuelta Femenina overall podium

LAGOS DE COVADONGA SPAIN MAY 07 Gaia Realini of Italy and Team TrekSegafredo White most combative rider jersey crosses the finish line as second place winner during the 9th La Vuelta Femenina 2023 Stage 7 a 937km stage from Pola de Siero to Lagos de Covadonga 1079m UCIWWT on May 07 2023 in Lagos de Covadonga Spain Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images
Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) finished third overall at La Vuelta Femenina (Image credit: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) was more than happy to finish on the podium of La Vuelta Femenina, standing alongside overall winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) and runner-up Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx). She fought with the two Dutchwomen on the last three days of the race and leapfrogged everybody else in the GC after the echelons on stage 3 put her on the back foot.

“Because of how the race had panned out by the end of the third stage, on which I lost some time because of the wind, I didn’t expect to be up there in the GC despite that being our initial goal. Being on the podium now is amazing,” the 21-year-old said.
Realini had done well in the echelons at the UAE Tour Women in February but was less fortunate on the plains of La Mancha, losing 2 minutes, 41 seconds on stage 3. Since she finished exactly 2:41 behind Van Vleuten in the final GC on Sunday, it is tempting to ask what could have been possible had the minuscule Italian climber – 1.50 metres in height and weighing only 40 kilograms – not been on the wrong side of the split.

“As a team, we never stopped believing in our ambitions and our strength to achieve something in this Vuelta. We were convinced and motivated and I am really happy that I could repay my teammates’ efforts. I want to dedicate this result to them,” Realini thanked her team for the support during the race.

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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.