Sara Gigante makes surprise move to AG Insurance-Soudal, leaves Movistar contract early

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Australian mountaineer and time trialist Sarah Gigante has made a surprise move to AG Insurance-Soudal after ending her three-year contract with Movistar.

The 23-year-old was due to be with Movistar until 2024, but the Spanish team announced on Wednesday that she and the team had reached a mutual agreement a year early. Movistar confirmed that the agreement was concluded in October and that she will officially leave the team on December 31.

AG Insurance-Soudal, formerly AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step, will be part of the Women’s World Tour next season after the UCI approved its promotion application.

“I’ve heard a lot about the team from my Australian friend and recent teammate Anya Luu, who I first raced against when I was 10 years old. Everything he told me about AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step sounded amazing and as soon as I spoke to team manager Natasha, I knew for sure that I really wanted to join,” said Gigante. “I greatly admire the radiating passion and teamwork that has been shown since the formation of the team, as well as the team’s focus on long-term development, both on and off the bike.”

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Gigante will ride alongside South African rider Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, who she wants to learn from.

Moolman-Pasio extended his career by another season after already delaying his retirement by a year to join the team in 2023.

“Supporting my new teammates and learning from them is something I can’t wait for and I hope to contribute to some big successes,” she said. “Also, it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to support an amazing rider like Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, who excels in the same kind of hilly and grueling racing that I personally enjoy the most.

“Continuing to improve my trial abilities is a goal I strive for. My first race in AG Insurance-Soudal colors will take place during the Australian Clocking Championship on January 4th. I can’t wait for 2024 to begin.”

The Australian turned professional at TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank in 2020 and impressed with two consecutive national time trial titles while with the team. Her performances caught the eye of Movistar and she signed a three-year contract with them ahead of the 2022 season.

Gigante’s time as a pro was marred by some serious injuries. In 2021, she missed almost the entire season after crashing heavily at Flèche Wallonne and suffering a broken collarbone, leg and elbow.

She had a promising start with Movistar and won the one-day Emakumeen Navarra in May, but later in the year had to cut her season short when she suffered a leg injury. She had hoped to get a full season of racing under her belt in 2023, but injury would keep her out of the peloton until August at the Tour of Scandinavia.

AG Insurance-Soudal boss Natascha den Ouden hopes to help Gigante achieve a clear result in the season and unlock its potential.

“I am very pleased with Sarah’s arrival. When we spoke in early October, her ambition was palpable. Sarah has had a difficult time, but her results as a young rider show her immense talent. I am confident that Sarah will return to her previous level and will be a huge asset for the stage races and the Walloon classics,” said Den Auden.

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