Gaia Realini (Trek-Segafredo) was more than pleased to complete on the rostrum of La Vuelta Femenina, standing alongside total winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Workforce) and runner-up Demi Vollering (Workforce SD Worx). She fought with the 2 Dutchwomen on the final three days of the race and leapfrogged everyone else within the GC after the echelons on stage 3 put her on the again foot.
“Due to how the race had panned out by the top of the third stage, on which I misplaced a while due to the wind, I didn’t count on to be up there within the GC regardless of that being our preliminary purpose. Being on the rostrum now’s wonderful,” the 21-year-old stated.
Realini had executed properly within the echelons on the UAE Tour Girls in February however was much less lucky on the plains of La Mancha, dropping 2 minutes, 41 seconds on stage 3. Since she completed precisely 2:41 behind Van Vleuten within the closing GC on Sunday, it’s tempting to ask what might have been attainable had the minuscule Italian climber – 1.50 metres in peak and weighing solely 40 kilograms – not been on the incorrect aspect of the break up.
“As a workforce, we by no means stopped believing in our ambitions and our power to realize one thing on this Vuelta. We have been satisfied and motivated and I’m actually comfortable that I might repay my teammates’ efforts. I need to dedicate this consequence to them,” Realini thanked her workforce for the assist in the course of the race.
Earlier than signing with Trek-Segafredo for 2023, Realini had raced for the small Italian Continental workforce Isolmant-Premac-Vittoria, combining cyclocross with a summer time marketing campaign of primarily Italian highway races. She completed eleventh and thirteenth within the Giro Donne in 2021 and 2022, and drew consideration on stage 9 of the 2022 version when she joined Kristen Faulkner on a long-range breakaway over three climbs, finally ending fifth on the day.
By that time, Realini had already signed with Trek-Segafredo, and started her 2023 season by pulling Elisa Longo Borghini to victory on the Jebel Hafeet on the UAE Tour Girls, ending second total herself. After a 1-2 with Amanda Spratt on the Trofeo Oro in Euro, Realini reached the rostrum within the Flèche Wallonne and completed seventh in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, underlining her good kind forward of the Spanish stage races in Might.
After the echelon setback on stage 3, Realini was out of rivalry for the general victory, however she fought her approach again by the GC on the three closing phases, solely dropping contact with stage winner Vollering on the ultimate kilometre of the stage 5 mountain-top end.
The subsequent day, Realini was the one one who might bridge to Van Vleuten when the latter attacked 33 km from the end, and in the long run Realini outsprinted the World Champion to win the stage. On the ultimate stage, the lengthy and grueling ascent to the Lagos de Covadonga made Realini really feel actually at dwelling.
“It instantly jogged my memory of a climb I do at dwelling, the Passo Lanciano. It’s a climb I do know very properly from coaching the place I do my efficiency checks, so I took on the climb as if it was that one. I used to be centered solely on the climb and actually loved each metre of it, it’s a stupendous climb,” stated Realini – in all probability in a small minority of riders who outright loved the Lagos de Covadonga climb.
Vollering was using a gentle tempo on the final 10 kilometres of the climb however appeared unable to shake Van Vleuten. It was Realini who dropped the crimson jersey with two accelerations, giving Vollering an opportunity to win again more often than not she had misplaced yesterday. On the final kilometre, Realini misplaced contact with Vollering and missed a second consecutive stage victory, however she did win the polka-dot jersey for one of the best climber.
“Ultimately I felt the trouble of the sooner kilometres, and Demi was so robust. I’m happy in regards to the closing consequence,” Realini stated.
“That is just the start … I do know there’s a lot to do and to enhance on. I’m comfortable for the whole lot I’ve executed right here however I must hold the give attention to bettering and rising.”