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Road Racing

Sarah Gigante in recovery after a bout of myopericarditis

The 21-year-old developed myopericarditis after the Tokyo Olympics.

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Reigning Australian time trial champion Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) is on the road to recovery after developing a heart condition in recent months.

Followers of Gigante’s Instagram page will have seen the 21-year-old posting photos and videos from hospital wards in recent months, and of her slow return to riding since. Until now it hasn’t been clear what the issue was.

In an article on its website on Tuesday afternoon US time, Gigante’s Tibco-SVB team provided details of the rider’s plight.

“Sarah started experiencing severe chest pains in early August that had her hospitalized in Girona,” said team founder Linda Jackson. “It was an incredibly scary time for Sarah, her family, her teammates, and all of those that know her.”

Medical professionals were initially unable to ascertain the cause of Gigante’s chest pains, but she was eventually diagnosed with myopericarditis – inflammation of both the heart muscle and the pericardium, the fibrous sac surrounding the heart.

After multiple visits to hospital, and after negotiating COVID-related travel difficulties, Gigante was able to get home to Australia in late October. She’s since been out riding on an e-bike as part of her recovery.

“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.”

It’s been a tough year for Gigante. While 2021 started well with a defence of her Aussie time trial title, it went downhill in April when she broke three bones at her debut Flèche Wallonne.

She was able to recover in time to represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, where she finished 11th in the time trial and 40th in the road race. But she’d soon be in and out of hospital with heart trouble.

“It’s been a really rough few months since Tokyo,” Gigante said. “I would never have guessed that this would have happened to me. 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 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.”

Gigante’s time with Tibco-SVB is now coming to a close after two disrupted seasons. She is contracted to race with Movistar from 2022 through to 2024.

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