Realini demonstrates her potential on the Mur de Huy to finish third

At her maiden Flèche Wallonne, the young Italian showcased her climbing skills and earned a podium place after an uphill battle against some of the best riders in the world.

It has been just over a month since her first taste of success as a professional rider at Trofeo Oro in Euro, and just over two months since her first podium finish in a World Tour race at UAE Tour. Now, Gaia Realini has taken another leap forward by grabbing her first podium result in a major Classic, Flechè Wallonne.

On the rugged slopes of the Mur de Huy, the symbol of this Belgian race, Realini fought with strength and determination to take third place behind Vollering (SD Worx) and Lippert (Movistar).

I feel a huge emotion that I struggle to describe in words. So many people said I could play my cards today, that the Mur de Huy was perfect for me, that it would be a tough race the way I like it. True things, but then here is always the competitors. And here, today, there were very strong athletes. Thanks to the Team and to my teammates, I faced the challenge with great confidence and calm. They believed in me from the very beginning. We are a strong group, solid like a rock. If I got this podium today, it is because my abilities emerged thanks to the teamwork and our spirit. A huge thank you to everyone.

At this point in the season, you can’t speak about Realini’s climbing performances with surprise or amazement. The very young Italian of Trek-Segafredo has already proven that her very strong climbing skills are a reality, and at just 21 years old, there is still ample room for improvement.

Enhancing these skills, beyond the Mur de Huy, were Realini’s teammates, who helped and protected her all day. From the amazing early work in the shadows of Lizzie Deignan and Lucinda Brand to the team’s effective and aggressive strategy once the race reached the first passage of the Mur. First with a move by Elisa Longo Borghini, then Shirin van Anrooij and finally with Amanda Spratt, the protagonist of a solo attack that lasted until inside 10kms to go.

In the end, the last ascent of the iconic climb was a crescendo of excitement from which Realini’s pure talent emerged.

Gaia’s reaction

I think Vollering did something amazing. My tactic was to wait for the last climb to the Mur de Huy and play my chances there. Thanks to the advice of Elisa [Longo Borghini] I approached the Mur de Huy with my pace. In the past few days we looked together at the arrivals of past years and I immediately understood that I should not take it head-on right away. It was thanks to this advice that I kept a small gap and then, in the last 100 meters, accelerated and passed Mavi Garcia.

Since I started my adventure with Trek-Segafredo I have always felt the desire to do well that we have in team as a stimulus, not a negative pressure. The same happened yesterday in the team meeting, when I was named as the leader. I was skeptical, because I know I’m young and inexperienced, but all my teammates were telling me that I had shown my potential, that I could demonstrate it and that they would race for me. In short, an incredible confidence boost. In the race they always kept me protected, I only spent a little more energy than I had to when I had to change my wheel before the penultimate lap. I never felt alone. The more experienced ones like Elisa, Lucinda and Amanda helped me manage the race; Lizzie led me in the group for most of the race, keeping me in the best positions. In short, they all did an incredible job. I believed until the end in this result and I am so happy to have repaid the trust.

I face every challenge trying to live in the present. Day by day, step by step. Thinking too much about what will be, where I can get to, I don’t find it useful. I want to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. I am on a team wants to protect me and cares about my growth. The future is all to be written and there is no rush.

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