In an awe-inspiring display of strength, Sarah Gigante of AG Insurance-Soudal clinched a resounding victory on the iconic Willunga Hill, securing her triumph in the overall classification of the 2024 Women’s Tour Down Under. Gigante’s dominant performance on the final stage left her competitors trailing, with Nienke Vinke of Team dsm-firmenich Post NL securing second place, 20 seconds adrift, and Neve Bradbury of Canyon//SRAM completing the podium.
Reflecting on her victory, Gigante expressed profound emotion, acknowledging the significance of the win after a challenging period. “I can’t even begin to tell you how much that means after the last one here three years ago. To come back full circle and with my new team, who believe in me so much, I’m just so grateful,” she said. Gigante’s win marked a momentous occasion for AG Insurance-Soudal, notching up the team’s first-ever Women’s WorldTour stage race win after winning Stage 1 through Ally Wollaston too. The 23-year-old emphasised the importance of the team’s support, particularly after earlier challenges in the stage.
The final stage was a much-anticipated showdown, with the peloton tackling Willunga Hill for the first time in the race’s history. Katia Ragusa of Human Powered Health shone on the early climbs, securing the Queen of the Mountain jersey. Crosswinds and aggressive pacing by the teams set the stage for a dramatic finale, with intermediate sprints intensifying the general classification battle.
Approaching Willunga Hill, the race narrative was tightly scripted. Lidl-Trek, in support of Amanda Spratt, drove the pace, fragmenting the peloton. Gigante, showcasing her climbing prowess and knowledge of the climb, launched a decisive attack at the base of Willunga Hill. Initially, a select group including overnight leader Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig from FDJ–Suez managed to keep pace, but Gigante’s relentless effort soon saw her break away solo. Stage 2 winner Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, unable to sustain the pace, faded significantly, finishing 14th on the stage and dropping to ninth overall. Vinke’s pursuit was commendable, but Gigante was in a league of her own, her victory a testament to her resilience and determination.
As Gigante crossed the finish line, her exuberant celebration reflected the magnitude of her achievement – a maiden Women’s WorldTour victory that will undoubtedly be a defining moment in her career. With this win, Gigante not only claims the GC ochre jersey but also reasserts her status as a formidable force in women’s cycling.
2024 Women’s Tour Down Under Stage 3 & GC result
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Main photo credit: SprintCycling