Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank rider Sarah Gigante on road to recovery
November 16, 2021
It's been a difficult year for Team TIBCO-SVB's Sarah Gigante, but things are finally looking up. TTSVB identified Gigante as a promising talent in 2018, and an impressive win at the 2019 Australian elite national championships road race, further piqued team Founder Jackson's interest. The team brought Gigante on board in the summer of 2019, and in January of 2020, Gigante sealed the deal on her potential with an impressive win at the 2020 Australian Time Trial Championships, at just 19 years old. "Sarah's time trial win showed us that she was not just a great climber; she had an incredible talent for time trialing as well, and overall had a very, very powerful engine," Jackson said.
Sarah Gigante on her way to winning the 2020 Australian TT championships. Photo/Con Chronis
Unfortunately, Covid travel restrictions sidelined Gigante for most of 2020, but the young star was still able to race with the team in the virtual world. With her mum by her side, Gigante finished in third place on stage 5 of Tour for All, took second on stage 5 Virtual Tour de France and the inaugural UCI Cycling eSports World Championship, claimed top honors on stage 1 and stage 3 of the Virtual Tour of the Gila, and first on the opening stage of the Virtual Joe Martin Stage Race. 2021 started off with a bang for Gigante with a successful defense of her national time trial championship.
Gigante finally got over to Europe with the team for the Spring races and placed an impressive 11th place at Dwars door Vlaanderen in March. Unfortunately, at a much-anticipated debut at Fleche Wallone in April, Gigante was involved in a crash that saw her break her elbow, collarbone, and fibula. Despite the crash, Gigante's potential got her named to the Australian Olympic team. After her crash, Gigante focused on preparation for the Olympics and posted an impressive 11th place in the time trial.
Gigante on the mend. Photo courtesy of Sarah Gigante
After the Olympics, things started going downhill for Gigante.
"Sarah started experiencing severe chest pains in early August that had her hospitalized in Girona," Jackson said. "It was an incredibly scary time for Sarah, her family, her teammates, and all of those that know her."
It was also a very frustrating time medically. Despite recurrent admissions to the hospital, medical experts at several hospitals did not initially diagnose the cause of the chest pains. It is now known that Sarah had myopericarditis. Her health situation, and limited flights into Australia, made it difficult, but Gigante finally flew home to Melbourne in late October. We are happy to say that she is on the mend and has even been well enough to ride outside on an electric bike.
"It will take some time for Gigante to get back to full-time training, but at this point, I am just delighted that Sarah is on the mend," Jackson said. "Heart conditions are always scary, and we were very concerned for her health. Sarah is an incredibly talented cyclist, and she is also a wonderful person. I am so happy to see her smiling again. The cycling world has only seen the beginning of what Gigante has to offer. It's been a very frustrating two years for Sarah and the team, as we know what she has to offer the cycling world. We will miss her as she moves on to Movistar next year, but we will always take delight in seeing her results as she returns to her dominant form in the coming years. For me personally, I am hugely relieved that this youngster is on the mend and has a lifetime ahead of her."
Gigante also sounds similarly positive after her health scare, and thanks the team and those around her for all their support.
"It's been a really rough few months since Tokyo - I would never have guessed that this would have happened to me," Gigante said. "It was not nice being alone in Spain when it all started, but I am a very lucky person in that I have the best support network ever. My brother, and later, my mum, both flew over to be with me. It was also nice to be with my teammate and housemate Kristen Faulkner once she came back from her races. I had many of Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank checking in on me, and even received valuable help from team friends in Dr. Frederick St Goar and Dr. Max Testa.
"I am feeling so much better now but have to ease back into cycling slowly, just to be cautious. It is a bit frustrating, but I'm mainly very happy that I am on the road to recovery and looking forward to getting back out there in the new year. Thanks again to Linda, Rachel (Hedderman), my teammates, sponsors and supporters, and everyone else at Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank for the last two years. It's not how I wanted to finish my time with the team, but it shows how supportive this team really is. I'll see you all out there at the races next year!"