Sarah Gigante won the women’s Tour Down Under thanks to a blistering solo attack on Willunga Hill but she is not done with the Tour Down Under’s most iconic climb.
Now she hopes to beat her own Queen of the Mountain Strava record and take on Richie Porte, the official King of Willunga. Gigante will race against Porte and hundreds of other riders on Saturday in the Garmin Willunga Hill Time Trial.
Riders will set off from a start ramp in Willunga every minute, with Porte last off as he tries to chase down the riders ahead of him. The fastest man and women to the top will win $1000 (£500 or $650 US dollars).
Porte set a time of 6:34 on the three-kilometre Old Willunga Hill Strava segment in 2020, one of his six victories on the climb. His time remains top of the Strava leaderboard, despite thousands of riders targeting the climb.
Gigante set the best women’s time up Willunga Hill 2021 during the Santos Festival of Cycling, which replaced the WorldTour race during the COVID-19 pandemic. She failed to beat her record during this year’s Tour Down Under due to a strong head wind, with a time on the Strava segment of 9:02, but she will be back on Saturday and joked about taking on Porte.
“I’m coming back on Saturday, for a new attempt. There’s a Willunga time trial, against Richie,” Gigante said provocatively.
“He’s retired but I’m not, so look out…”
Gigante is in superb form and won the women’s Tour Down Under with her solo attack from the foot of Willunga Hill. She distanced stage 2 winner Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ–Suez) and the rest of the peloton to secure overall victory.
The 23-year-old from Melbourne showed her talents in 2019 when she won the Australia road race title while still a teenager. However, she has battled with illness, health problems, broken bones and limited racing while with Movistar. She opted to end her contract with the Spanish team late in 2023 and joined AG Insurance-Soudal.
She has now won on Willunga Hill twice and the time trial would be a third win on a climb that has a special place in her heart.
“I came from (the national championships in) Buninyong with my teammate Anya Louw. We drove to Adelaide and I said: ‘I’m sorry, but we have to take a detour to Willunga because I need to get a photo with the sign before anyone takes the queen of the mountain,” Gigante revealed.
The sign Gigante posed with shows Porte’s record of 6:39 and Gigante’s record of 8:13. The latter may have to be updated if Gigante gets her way and sets a new record.
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