Gaia Realini Withdraws from Vuelta Femenina Following Stage 5 Crash

Gaia Realini

Gaia Realini, a key figure in the Lidl-Trek team, has been forced to withdraw from the Vuelta Femenina following a high-speed crash during Stage 5 of the race. The Italian climber, who had worn the red leader’s jersey earlier in the tour, came off her bike on the descent of the Alto del Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña with just 28km left to the finish.

Realini, who showed promise with a stage win and a third overall in the 2023 edition, faced a difficult race this year, having already lost time in the wind on Stage 4. The crash compounded her challenges, initially seeing her try to continue the race. Assisted by teammate Brodie Chapman, Realini struggled to remount and was visibly in pain, leaning against a roadside cliff before eventually getting back on a spare bike provided by her team car.

Despite the quick reaction, no concussion check appeared to be performed on Realini at the crash site, a detail captured in the race’s TV coverage. She managed to finish the stage, albeit over seven minutes behind the stage winner, Demi Vollering of SD Worx-Protime, who claimed the red jersey. Following a post-stage evaluation by her team’s medical staff, it was confirmed that Realini had suffered a minor concussion along with pain in her chest and right elbow.

The decision for Realini not to start Stage 6 was announced by Lidl-Trek the following morning. The team prioritised her recovery, stating she would undergo further hospital evaluations to ensure her well-being. This turn of events marks a significant setback for Realini, who had high hopes for this year’s Vuelta Femenina, not only to compete but to mentor younger teammates in the rigours of stage racing.

Main photo credit: Getty