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Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) has closed to within just three seconds of Richard Carapaz’s (Ineos Grenadiers) maglia rosa after beating the Giro d’Italia race leader by four precious seconds at the end of stage 16.
Hindley finished third on the stage after another blockbuster encounter in the mountains, and with Carapaz in fourth the gap between the two riders has now narrowed to just three seconds with five stages remaining. Hindley has now beaten Carapaz in three sprints during the race, and while the pair look evenly matched on the climbs, it’s the Australian who appears to have the growing momentum.
Bora-Hansgrohe posted two riders in the early break with Lennard Kämna and Wilco Kelderman both sent up the road. Ineos Grenadiers, Astana and Bahrain-Victorious controlled the pace at various stages of the day with a fast pace set on the Mortirolo and the unclassified climb that came before the final ascent of the Valico di Santa Cristina.
“It was a pretty epic day, as expected with some hard climbs and a big group going on the road,” Hindley said after the stage. “We were fortunate enough to have Lennard Kämna and Wilco Kelderman in there which I think was good, in case of multiple situations happening. Me and Emanuel Buchmann just rode conservatively in the bunch and stayed out of trouble.
“The race started to kick off on the second last climb and Bahrain took control and rode a pretty solid tempo and then full gas on the descent and onto the last climb.”
Hindley responded to an attack from Mikel Landa with just over 10km to go, and the pair were joined by Carapaz almost immediately. The trio attacked each other at various stages over the last climb but all three riders were evenly matched. They did dislodge both João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) almost immediately and effectively enhanced their podium chances — although Landa remains fourth in the overall standings.
“I was feeling quite good so I tried some attacking on the climb but couldn’t really shake Carapaz and Landa. In the end it was a good day,” Hindley said.
The 2020 Giro d’Italia runner-up has not put a foot wrong in this year’s race and with a stage win in the bag looks well on course to battle Carapaz all the way to Verona. His edge in the sprint and bonus seconds clearly puts the Bora rider at an advantage, and with a time trial to come, some have predicted that Carapaz needs around a minute before the final TT on Sunday.
Hindley has clearly taken a conservative approach at times in this year’s race, but his ability to match every attack suggests that it might not be too long before he makes a significant move for pink during the remaining mountain stages.
“To get the bonus seconds in the finish and gain time on some of the GC guys,” Hindley said. “All in all it was a good day and the sensations were good.”