Sarah Gigante takes solo victory at Emakumeen Nafarroako

Sarah Gigante took her first victory in Movistar colours at Emakumeen Nafarroako. The Australian was the strongest on the day's challenging route that included eight ascents and soloed to the win in Iruzun. Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) finished second and Paula Patiño in third, giving Movistar two riders on the podium.

“It’s absolutely amazing. I’m in shock, it’s crazy. I’ve never been in the top-10 of a European race, so making my first top-ten a victory is amazing," Gigante said. "The whole team was so, so awesome. Paula, obviously, coming in 3rd was so good, but she made it even better by helping so much, chasing everyone behind so they didn’t bridge back. 

"It was a whole team effort — thanks also to Sheyla [Guitierrez], Lourdes [Oyarbide], Katrine [Aalerud] and Sara [Martin], for keeping the front all day. We had such an amazing support staff — I just don’t want to forget about anyone! I loved the course, too; thanks to the organisers for designing such an amazing parcours, it’s the kind of course that I love.

"This is beyond my dreams; I could never wake up thinking I could win this, and I’m going to really enjoy it."

Emakumeen Nafarroako offered the field a challenging 137km race in Iruzun. The route included eight categorized ascents and almost no flat roads in between. 

The climbing started on the opening short loop over the Goni (19km) and Ulzurrun (26km). The race then crossed through the finish line in Iruzun before tackling the Zuarrarrate (51km) on the way to the larger loop where they climbed Uizi (66km), Usategieta (77km), Saldias (91km), Saldias-Orokieta (97km), Beruete (114km) and lastly Zuarrarrate (128km) before a descent to the finish.

Maakie Colijé (Massi-Tactic) cleared the field early in the stage over the first climb, Goñi, and pushed her solo lead out to 40 seconds over chaser Georgia Williams (BikeExchange-Jayco). William's efforts to bridge across were short-lived and she was pulled back into the field on the slopes of the Ulzurrun.

Sara Martin (Movistar) bridged to Colije at the end of the smaller loop and the pair were later joined by Urška Žigart (BikeExchange-Jayco) and the trio crested the Zuarrarrate together.

Martin attacked her breakaway companions as the raced headed into Lekunberri at 60km into the stage, but her efforts were unsuccessful and the trio reunited with a two-minute gap over an emerging chase group.

Žigart opened a gap on the breakaway riders and was later joined by one of the chasers Nadine Gill (Sopela Women's Team), who then counter attacked over the Saldias ascent at 91km into the race. 

The pair reunited over the top, however, and they were later joined by a selection that had formed Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB), Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ), Sarah Gigante (Movistar) and Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange).

Gigante used her climbing strengths to power away from the select group and gained over one minute on a chasing Žigart, who was not ready to give up the race but was followed closely by Faulkner, Garcia, Ewers along with Gigante's teammate Paula Patino.

Over the last climb of the day, Zuarrarrate, Gigante held on to a 1:15 lead on Faulkner, Garcia and Patino, as Žigart lost contact. The Australian descended into Iruzun to claim her first win of the year in Movistar colours.

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Kirsten Frattini
Women's Editor

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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