Teen star Gigante targets Tokyo time trial

Shayne Hope

Rising star Sarah Gigante has set her sights on a Tokyo Olympics time trial berth after claiming her maiden elite national championship in the discipline.

The 19-year-old Victorian adapted best to the tough new 28.6km course around Ballarat's Federation University on Wednesday, stopping the clock in a time of 42 minutes 41.82 seconds.

She finished nine seconds ahead of defending champion Grace Brown while Emily Herfoss was third.

Brown was the only rider from the powerful Mitchelton-Scott team on the podium, after decorated teammate Amanda Spratt had to settle for fourth.

Gigante, who also claimed the under-23 time trial title in her first appearance in Team TibcoSilicon Valley Bank colours, had entered the elite race hopeful of a top-five finish after finishing seventh last year.

But she surprised herself and is now in search of a much bigger target.

Australia's women's time trial selection for Tokyo is still wide open following former national champion and Rio Olympics rider Katrin Garfoot's retirement more than a year ago.

"Time trial is always the race of truth so I was just hoping to come out here and give it my best shot," Gigante said.

"I don't think I've beaten any of the ladies that came in the top five in the time trial before and probably only beaten them in any race once before.

"I've been training really hard for nationals, so it has been a target.

"I was hoping to do well in the under-23 race ... and top-five I would've been really stoked with.

"The most I can do is train hard and do my best in all the races and just what happens (with regards to Olympics selection) behind the scenes.

"I'll just keep trying my hardest and having fun and see where it takes me."

Gigante won last year's elite road race and will attempt to defend that crown on Sunday without teammate Shannon Malseed, who suffered serious injuries in a fall during last week's Bay Crits event.

Spratt had a disrupted preparation for the 2020 season when she was forced to leave her training base in the Blue Mountains earlier than planned last month because of nearby bushfires.

The 32-year-old claimed a third consecutive overall win at the Tour Down Under last year and will shoot for a fourth later this month.

But she has altered her focus in pursuit of a time trial berth in Tokyo this year and now has Gigante for competition.

Brown, who missed last year's world championships through injury, is another leading contender.

Meanwhile, former Australian junior time trial champion Luke Plapp won the men's under-23 category.

Plapp improved on last year's silver medal finish to cross the line 14 seconds ahead of Kelland O'Brien (St Kilda CC).

Plapp's InForm TM Insight Make teammate Carter Turnbull was third.