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‘The bar and the expectations have been raised’ – Gaia Realini extends with Lidl-Trek

Lidl-Trek have signed Gaia Realini through to the end of 2027, announcing the hefty contract extension with the Italian rider who was quick to impress in her first season with the team in 2023.

On her very first outing with Lidl-Trek last season Realini supported teammate Elisa Longo Borghini to victory at the UAE Tour and also joined her experienced teammate on the podium in second. She then continued on to scoop up victory at the Trofeo Oro, hit the podium at La Flèche Wallonne, won a stage at La Vuelta Femenina and came third overall in Spain and also at the Giro d’Italia Donne.

“My first year with the team, the one that has just ended, went beyond my wildest expectations,” said Realini in a team statement. “It was really hard to ask for more. I made strong performances and achieved top results, but the greatest success was the confidence and awareness I gained. 

“I joined the team on tiptoes, with the curiosity of discovering a new world, and I found myself unexpectedly under the spotlight. Thanks to the Team and my family, I learnt how to manage this and take the most out of it, race after race.”

Realini now enters her second season with the team as one of the few riders within the women’s peloton who already has her future secured through to the end of the 2027 season.

“One year after, ambitions and perspectives have changed. The bar and the expectations have been raised: this is the great challenge that the Team and I want to win,” said Realini. “The contract renewal is, for me, putting pen on paper the attestation of how much I love to ride with this Team and how valued I felt. 

“Now, we have new goals. First and foremost, becoming an increasingly solid climber in stage races; then, getting as close as possible to the great GC riders of the WorldTour.”

In recent years first Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and now Demi Vollering (SD Worx–Protime) have been the dominant riders at key stage races. The depth of the talent in the Dutch team in particular have made it a formidable rival to all in the women’s peloton, with Lidl-Trek the only team able to come close to challenging the squad’s dominance in recent years. Realini, however, is already starting to develop into one of the teams biggest assets in its pursuit of top finishes at some of the world’s biggest races.
“In 2022, we did know we signed huge talent, an amazing climber, but I got really impressed on how quickly she adapted on being part a big Team, a big organization and, race after race, how she managed to take the leadership when needed,” said Lidl-Trek DS Ina Teutenberg. “At her age, she managed to have a leading role and the responsibility with innate facility. She made huge steps in an impressive easy way. 

“She’s mentally so strong, as well as being amazing on the bike, and that was her key to become in just one year one the most promising talents in the peloton. Together, we want to continue on this growing path to lead her, in the coming future, among the strongest rider of women’s cycling.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: simone.giuliani@futurenet.com
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