Jai Hindley accomplished what he so narrowly missed two years ago by sealing overall victory in the Giro d’Italia on Sunday – becoming the first Australian rider to win the Grand Tour of Italy.
Hindley finished 1 minute and 18 seconds clear of 2019 champion Richard Carapaz after the final individual time trial, which ended next to Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater.
Victory was all the sweeter for Hindley after entering the final stage of the 2020 Giro wearing the pink jersey to finish second behind Tao Geoghegan Hart. Hindley said that second place finish haunted him for months thereafter. Then he struggled last year with injury and illness and retired midway through the 2021 Giro due to saddle pain.
“Last year was really, really tough and I really fought hard to be back here,” Hindley said. “But I didn’t know I would fight for the win.”
Nothing went wrong for the Bora-Hansgrohe driver in this year’s race. Hindley won Stage 9 which ended with a strenuous climb to Blockhaus, he gained seconds over Carapaz on the grueling 16th stage over the legendary Col de Mortirolo and then he took the lead in the penultimate stage on Saturday dropping its rivals in the overall standings. in the formidable ascent of the Marmolada.
Essentially, Hindley was better or on par with Carapaz on almost every step of the climb.
Hindley’s climbing prowess was already evident in 2020 when he won the ‘queen’ stage of the Giro over the Stelvio Pass.
Now Hindley, 26, has joined 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans as the only Australian to win a Grand Tour.
Carapaz, the Ecuadorian who won Olympic gold last year and who celebrated his 29th birthday on Sunday, was the pre-race favourite.
Carapaz finished seven seconds ahead of Hindley in the time trial but Hindley had entered the final day with a 1:25 advantage.
Spanish rider Mikel Landa finished third overall and Vincenzo Nibali, the 37-year-old two-time Giro champion who plans to retire at the end of this season, finished fourth.
Hindley, wearing a pink and black aero helmet to go with his pink leader’s jersey, simply smiled and raised his fist a few times after crossing the finish line.
Italian rider Matteo Sobrero won the 17.4 kilometer (11 mile) time trial, which followed a technical course that included a category four climb and subsequent descent, in 22 minutes, 24.54 seconds.
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