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Queen of Willunga Hill Sarah Gigante rode to a strong result on the fifth stage of La Vuelta Femenina on Thursday, finishing in fifth place. The stage ran from Huesca to Jaca over a distance of 114 kilometers, with challenging mountain terrain, ideal for climbers, and an uphill finish.

At 43 kilometers from the finish, Sarah was involved in a crash, but fortunately could continue the race without serious injuries. In the last kilometers of Alto del Fuerte Rapitan, the leading group fragmented, and three riders went clear, with Sarah in pursuit. AG Insurance - Soudal’s rider demonstrated her climbing skills, as she previously did by winning the title of Queen of Willunga Hill in the Tour Down Under, in January.

The fifth stage featured a challenging climb 28.4 kilometers from the finish at Alto del Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña. The final climb led to an uphill finish at Meta Alto del Fuerte Rapitán.

“I was really looking forward to today's race with an uphill finish, as it was the first time to test my climbing legs against the top GC riders, not just in this race, but also for the first time in my life! The whole team worked really well together to help me in the first 50 kilometers, especially Ilse, Maud, and Anya. They were great! Unfortunately, Anya and I crashed on the early slopes of the first climb, but luckily we could continue. I needed a bike change, but then Julie dropped back and paced me back to the group, so I was really lucky it wasn’t worse. The group was reduced to about a third of the original peloton on that long, but gradual climb, and split even more on the descent. However, Mireia and Julie did an excellent job of closing the gap and helping me position for the final climb. I took the lead on the early slopes of the final climb so I could go at my own pace and have a good position. I didn't have a power meter anymore because of my bike change, but I tried to set a solid, but not maximal, tempo. Eventually, the other climbers took over the pace, and I did my best to follow. I was dropped fourth last and finished fifth. I'm very grateful to my teammates for their hard work, both today and all week, and I'll keep doing my best in the upcoming stages”, said a happy Sarah.