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Giro d'Italia

Jai Hindley distances past with Giro d’Italia victory: ‘I didn’t know if I was going to wear pink again’

Hindley breaks new ground as first Australian Giro d'Italia champion, buries memories of near-miss in 2020.

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Jai Hindley put a touch of pink into the green and gold of Australia and buried the past with Giro d’Italia victory Sunday.

Hindley secured the pink jersey for the second time of asking with a ride to 15th in the Verona time trial that scored Australia its first ever maglia rosa and banished the demons of being blown out of the race lead in 2020.

“It’s a beautiful feeling. I had a lot of emotions out there today,” Hindley said soon after the finish.

“I had in the back of my mind what happened in 2020, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again. To take the win … it’s incredible.”

Hindley wore the pink jersey for just one stage when he battled Tao Geoghegan Hart in 2020. While the Brit ripped it from his shoulders in the final TT 18 months ago, the Bora-Hansgrohe captain didn’t let it happen again Sunday.

“The pink jersey, it’s the most beautiful jersey in cycling,” he said. “It’s a privilege and an honor to wear this again. It was a bumpy road to get back here again and I didn’t know if I was going to get a chance to wear this again.”

Hindley started this Giro way off everyone’s radar.

After breaking out with his near-miss behind Geoghegan Hart in the post-lockdown 2020 Giro, the Aussie went off-grid with a 2021 season stacked with setbacks and short of racing.

Hindley reconfirmed the promise he showed eighteen months ago in the past three weeks through Hungary and Italy.

Victory on the Blockhaus summit two weeks ago left him poised in the center of the classification pack, and set him on course for a tense battle with 2019 champion Richard Carapaz through the mountains.

Carapaz and Hindley went on to mark each other’s wheels through the Alps until the Ecuadorian crumbled in the Dolomites on stage 20, leaving Hindley with a 1:25 lead to defend through a 17.4km race against the clock Sunday.

Hindley wasn’t fazed by the pressure as he raced to within seven seconds of Carapaz’s time trial result in Verona.

“I was getting updates and I felt pretty good on the bike, I wasn’t fighting it,” he said. “I was getting the time checks and I knew it was a decent ride so in the end I really wanted to take the descent cautiously… then I gave everything to the line.”

Hindley brings Australia its first grand tour win in 11 years. Cadel Evans was the last Aussie to take victory over three weeks with his 2011 yellow jersey.

Hindley also hits the record books by being the first from Down Under to win the Giro, and Bora-Hansgrohe’s first grand tour winner.

“It’s really incredible,” Hindley said, choking up with emotion. “I’m really proud to be Australian, and I’m happy to take this one home.”

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