Letizia Paternoster began Trek-Segafredo’s first race of their opening season in the best way possible, sprinting to victory on stage one at the Santos Tour Down Under Thursday.
The nineteen-year-old Italian, who is taking a small hiatus from the UCI track season to race the Tour Down Under, showed top form and easily held off challenges from Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-Scott), in second, and Arlenis Sierra (Astana), in third.
“When I went, I thought I was closer to the finish line, and when I saw it was still 250m to go, I wanted to die a little. I am so happy to have pulled it off,” said an elated Paternoster. “This is really an amazing day for me; it’s only my second year as a professional rider. To start out with the new team, and the first race of the team like this, is really, really great!”
The peloton seemed to accept that the first stage of the four-day race would be settled by the sprinters, and no breakaway established over the 113-kilometer race. Trek-Segafredo was more than happy to comply with Paternoster’s fast legs in-waiting, and the team rallied around the young Italian in the final kilometres.
“We planned to always lead out Letizia,” explained Trek-Segafredo director Ina Teutenberg. “We lost the last person for the lead-out with Lotta (Lepistö) being sick today, but we rearranged, and the girls did a perfect job bringing Letizia to 250 meters and then she just took it from there. I am really happy. It’s a nice monkey off your back as they say – first race, first win, it can’t really go any better than that.”
Paternoster win also landed her the leader’s jersey which she will wear in stage two tomorrow.
“I want to thank Lauretta (Hanson) who brought me in a perfect way to the finish line, but also the rest of the team – we really rode together as a team today and it was just awesome to finish it off like that and take the leader’s jersey on top is a nice bonus,” added Paternoster.