Australia’s Gigante powers to victory in Tour Down Under

Adelaide (Australia) (AFP) – Australian cyclist Sarah Gigante overpowered her rivals with a strong hill assault to claim a dominant final stage win Sunday, carrying off the women’s Tour Down Under title.

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The AG Insurance-Soudal rider surged to overall victory after powering away from the field during a punishing three-kilometre summit finish in the event’s third and final stage.

Gigante won the 93.4-kilometre (58-mile) stage by 16 seconds, followed by Dutch rider Nienke Vinke in second and fellow Australian rider Neve Bradbury in third.

An emotional Gigante, 23, paid tribute to her new team after switching from Movistar before the start of the WorldTour season.

“To come back full circle and with my new team and they believe in me so much. I’m just so grateful to everyone who kept believing in me. It’s so special,” Gigante said after the race.

Her victory came despite struggling for position within the peloton in blustery conditions during the stage from Adelaide to Willunga Hill.

“It was really difficult. My team was so amazing. I burnt so many of their matches and a few of mine, but they kept believing in me,” Gigante said.

“It’s our first tour as a WorldTour team. Ally [Wollaston] won the first stage, I won the last stage and together we all won the ochre jersey. It’s just crazy.

“I’m just so happy to get a win. It’s pretty tough when you’re only 23 and lots of people think you’re washed-up, and sometimes I did too. It was just so hard to keep believing in myself but I did and AG Insurance-Soudal did too.”

Gigante left some notable climbers struggling in her wake as she attacked the famed Willunga Hill, which has an average gradient of 7.4 percent.

Three-time Tour Down Under winner Amanda Spratt trailed 27 seconds behind to finish fourth overall, while overnight leader Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of Denmark was a spent force halfway up the summit.

Uttrup Ludwig ultimately finished in 14th, just over a minute behind the winner.

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