A brand new star was born on the mountain stage of the UAE Tour Ladies.
Elisa Longo Borghini received the stage atop Jebel Hafeet and took the general race lead but it surely was the efficiency of her younger teammate Gaia Realini that made stage 3 of the race so particular.
Longo Borghini is among the finest riders of her era and now Realini seems destined to comply with in her footsteps. The 2 Italians are two very various kinds of riders however each are particular riders. Longo Borghini’s efficiency was extraordinary however Realini’s trip was arguably historic, the affirmation of her skills throughout her first race with a WorldTour workforce.
Longo Borghini took the stage victory and the chief’s crimson jersey however Realini produced the efficiency of the day.
The 2 Italian riders got here collectively to take management of the UAE Tour Ladies for Trek-Segafredo after their teammates had compelled a cut up within the peloton and distanced some key rivals on the windswept flat street.
21-year-old Realini is a pure climber and confirmed it on the 11km climb of Jebel Hafeet. As different riders suffered on the fixed gradient and testing hairpins, Realini appeared to get pleasure from each second.
She first cut up the lead group of 17 riders after which set an infernal tempo that steadily cracked her rivals. After simply 4 kilometres of climbing, solely Longo Borghini, Esmée Peperkamp (Group DSM), Soraya Paladin (Canyon-SRAM), Anna Shackley (Group SD Worx), and Silvia Persico and Mikayla Harvey (UAE Group ADQ) had been unable capable of deal with Realini’s tempo on the climb.
After one other kilometre solely Peperkamp was left hanging on to Realini after which she was dropped with 5 kilometres to go.
Realini and Longo Borghini look sturdy and in complete management, with Realini persevering with to set a excessive tempo, and so extending the pair’s result in a minute. Persico crossed the road in third place 1:11 down on the pair, that means Longo Borghini turned the brand new race chief, with Realini shifting as much as third general at seven seconds and taking the perfect younger rider’s white jersey.
Historical past was written on a climb that has already seen Tadej Pogacar triumph within the males’s UAE Tour.
Realini rode her coronary heart out for Longo Borghini, laughing and joking together with her teammate within the remaining kilometre as they savoured the second.
“It was a really onerous stage but it surely was unbelievable for me. This has been an enormous day for us,” Realini stated with pleasure after hugging her Trek-Segafrtedo teammates and realising what she had achieved.
“It is my first season driving for an enormous workforce, and my first race for them, so I am delighted to be on my first podium. Elisa and I had rhythm on the climb and it was unbelievable to cross the road collectively.”
Realini and everybody at Trek-Segafredo had been ecstatic together with her efficiency and the workforce’s outcomes.
“We owe loads to Gaia Realini, for me she was the MVP of the day,” Longo Borghini stated in reward of her younger teammate.
“She was simply unbelievable, she set a tough tempo and hastily we had been alone. We stated we simply must go this tempo collectively after which have a good time collectively. We had been 5 heroes, for my part, I’ve 4 champions subsequent to me.”
“On the end, me and Gaia wished her to win however then we did some calculations and the workforce director determined to do it in a different way. Gaia is an unbelievable bike rider so I’m trying ahead to giving this victory again to her.”
Realini was impressed by the climbing exploits of the late Marco Pantani and he or she seems to have the identical uncommon climbing skills because the 1998 Giro d’Italia and Tour de France winner. But she has named Longo Borghini as her function mannequin, including additional significance to her efficiency on Jebel Hafeet.
She hails from the Abruzzo area of southern Italy and is conscious that her biking future lies within the mountains. She confirmed the primary indicators of that within the 2021 and 2022 Giro Donne and made an enormous step up in 2023 after her transfer to Trek-Segafredo.
“For Italian riders, Pantani is a legend, the essence of the climber. However my mannequin, as an athlete and as a girl, has all the time been Elisa Longo Borghini,” Realini defined when her transfer to Trek-Segafredo was confirmed.
“I’ve all the time adopted her with nice admiration, each on TV and now within the peloton. She’s my level of reference. Studying from her is one among my targets. I’ll enter the workforce on tiptoes however with plenty of enthusiasm. I need to study all the pieces.”
With ladies’s biking, and particularly Grand Tour racing, quickly going through a serious generational change with Annemiek van Vleuten’s retirement, Realini might be the following nice climber of the game and her star shone brightly for the primary time with Trek-Segafredo on the 2023 UAE Tour.