When Sarah Gigante lined up at the 2023 Tour of Scandinavia it was a welcome return to racing after a full 12 months away. Pinning on a number at the Women’s WorldTour stage-race ended the Australian’s longest, but certainly not only, absence from the peloton after four years interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, collarbone fractures, myopericarditis, and various other injuries and illnesses.
Now, however, the Movistar rider is hoping to put that run behind her and build back to best form again while working her way back into the racing rhythm.
“I am really good to go, maybe missing a bit of my top end. I felt really good in the TT yesterday, but I wasn’t very fast. So I think I need a little bit more time to get back to where I was, but I’m feeling great and very excited and happy to be back racing,” Gigante told Cyclingnews at the sign-in for the final stage of the Tour of Scandinavia in Middelfart.
Gigante finished mid-field in the race against the clock, a discipline where she has twice taken the title of Australian champion in the elite category, and safely made it through to the end of the five-stage Women’s WorldTour race. That has left the rider, who signed a three-year contract with Movistar starting in 2022, looking hopefully ahead to what is left of the year.
“I don’t actually know my schedule yet, I think the team was waiting to see how this race went. But yeah, I really hope that I can get more than just this one tour in. It can really still be a good end to the season,” she said.
Gigante spent most of the last 12 months in her home country where she could train on familiar roads, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy the on site university experience.
“I only came back to Europe three weeks ago. So yeah, I had a lot of time off in Australia, but at least I had friends and family around me, and I went to university like a normal student for the first time. I’ve never been going to campus four days a week before. I did that for the first half of the year and then I could start training really hard and came over just in time for this race,” she said.
The Tour of Scandinavia was only the second opportunity (after Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2022) for Gigante to race alongside her role model Annemiek van Vleuten since the Dutchwoman chose the Scandinavian race as her penultimate UCI race before ending her career.
“It’s super nice to get in another race with her. Annemiek was one of the big reasons that I chose to join Movistar, and in the end, I didn’t get to race much with her at all. It’s really nice to have five days of getting to learn from her. She’s super lovely and has been a fantastic mentor in the last couple of days, trying to give me lots of tips which I need, so I’m really grateful for that,” Gigante said.
But even with Van Vleuten on the way out, the Movistar team and Gigante feel ready for 2024.
“We have a super strong team every year. It seems to get stronger every year since Annemiek came, it’s amazing. We also have Liane [Lippert] and so many other strong girls. I just have to keep learning and get more experience in the peloton and then I don’t need good luck, just hopefully a year without bad luck,” Gigante said.