Gaia Realini has been one of the fastest rising talents in pro racing and she is set to take a leap into the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo in 2023. The 21-year-old Italian aims to develop into her new role while also showing the world her capabililities at the top level of the sport.
“This is a dream that comes true, I am super excited,” said Realini, who joins the team from Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria. “I have always looked at Trek-Segafredo as the best team in the peloton. A unique style, the image of the perfect team. I couldn’t really ask for better for my future.”
Realini turned heads in her debut at the Giro d’Italia Donne last year where she finished 11th overall and second in the youth classification, as well as taking two top-10 finishes, on the queen stage 2 into Prato Nevoso and in the stage 4 mountain time trial to Riale Di Formazza Cascate Del Toce.
She continued that success at this year’s Giro d’Italia Donne where she finished 13th overall and third in youth classification, as well as a top climber, having placed seventh and fifth in the two mountain stage 7 to Passo Maniva and stage 9 into San Lorenzo Dorsino.
“It was the first, real chance to show the world who I was, to draw attention to myself. So far I have experienced professional cycling in a small reality, very different from what I will find next year,” Realini said.
“To be honest, beyond what I could see from the outside, I don’t even really know what to expect. It will be a huge leap in quality, with so many new things to discover. Definitely the best I could aspire to grow.”
Realini will join two compatriots, World Champion Elisa Balsamo and Elisa Longo Borghini. She said Longo Borghini is her mentor in the sport and someone from whom she hopes to learn in the years ahead.
“These characteristics are my key to ride strong in the mountains. For an Italian rider, man or woman, the myth to be inspired by is always Pantani, the essence of the climber,” Realini said in describing her height of 4 feet 9 inches and 40 kg weight.
“But my model, as an athlete and as a woman, has always been Elisa Longo Borghini. I have always followed her with great admiration, both on TV and now in the peloton. She’s my point of reference. Learning from her is one of my goals.”
Also a strong cyclo-cross racer, Realini has decided to focus exclusively on road racing next year. She aims to test herself on the Women’s WorldTour, support the team’s leaders and hopes to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Flèche Wallonne.
“I will enter the team on tiptoes but with a lot of enthusiasm. I want to learn everything. From the most experienced, like Longo Borghini, [Lizzie] Deignan or [Ellen] Van Dijk, and from the youngest and most talented, like [Shirin] Van Anrooij,” she said.
“The next few years will also serve me to understand who Gaia really is as a rider. I know myself and I know I still have important room for growth. Knowing myself better will help me focus on what goals to aim for the future and what goals to pursue.”