'Richie Porte's retired but I'm not, so look out' - Sarah Gigante targets Strava fastest time up Willunga Hill

Having conquered the South Australian climb at the Tour Down Under, the 23-year-old wants to come back to smash the fastest time

Sarah Gigante
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Willunga Hill might not be the toughest climb in the world, but as an arena of sport, it has outgrown itself, becoming an iconic place for Australia cycling. This is mainly thanks to Richie Porte's endeavours, due to the former Sky, BMC and Trek-Segrafredo winning six times in a row up the hill. He turned a stage finish into a legend.

Next weekend, he will return to the scene of so many of his triumphs to compete against the public in a hill climb time trial. However, he will have stiff competition in the form of Sarah Gigante, who will aim to not only beat her QOM time of 8:13, but Porte's time of 6:34, which he set in his last appearance at the Tour Down Under in 2020.

The Strava segment, Old Willunga Hill, has been raced 18,000 times. Gigante hoped to set a competitive time when the women's Tour Down Under went up it on Sunday, but thanks to a block headwind, she merely won the stage and the overall, rather than setting a best Strava time. She did set her second best time, however - 9:02 - which is still faster than any other woman up it.

"When we drove to Adelaide, I said sorry but we've got to do a detour to Willunga, because I need to get a photo with the sign," Gigante said post-race, revealing that she was worried about whether her record would stand once the Women's WorldTour raced up it.

"I don't think anyone took it because we had a massive block headwind," she continued. "Even though I did better power, and power to weight than last time. So I'm coming back on Saturday, for a new attempt. There's a Willunga time trial, against Richie. He's retired but I'm not, so look out."

The hill climb will see amateur riders setting off from the start ramp every minute until Porte and Gigante try their efforts. They might even race each other up it.

"The only time I talked to Richie was in the elevator after we both won up Willunga a few years ago. He said ‘well done’ and I said ‘thanks, but I’m a bit sad I didn’t beat your time’ and he  just looked at me like I was a bit crazy," Gigante told GCN earlier in the week.

Gigante is in perhaps the form of her life, with the 23-year-old beating all at the women's Tour Down Under. She has bounced back from illness, heart problems, and a plethora of broken bones and a lack of racing over the past couple of years, to be back to her best. She has now won on Willunga Hill twice, so victory there is clearly natural to her. 

"It means everything to me," she said after her TDU victory. "I was really hoping to come out and show I was back at nationals, but with my bad luck in the time trial, to come here and have such amazing support. My team believed in me even when I was struggling. It means so much to me, to come back full circle after winning here three years ago, and since then, so many things went wrong. Now I'm back and I'm so happy."

Watch out, Richie Porte.

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