UTRECHT, Netherlands (VN) – After stage two of the Vuelta a España, Jai Hindley got off his bike and had a back slap with a team staffer. Bora-Hansgrohe already had a stage win to celebrate after Sam Bennett’s bunch sprint triumph minutes earlier.
Of course, the Giro d’Italia winner is here for the GC long game and waiting for the mountains. “Day two, but still a long way to go,” Hindley told VeloNews.
Hindley’s Bora-Hansgrohe team finished seventh in the opening TTT, losing 41 seconds to Primož Roglič.
He also finds himself in deficit to the likes of rivals Richard Carapaz, Remco Evenepoel and Simon Yates, who are 13, 14 and 31 seconds behind the Slovenian and his race-leading teammate Mike Teunissen.
“Yesterday, we lost a bit of time but I don’t think it’s the end of the world,” Hindley said. “I think we still rode a good team time trial, I’m still really confident in the guys and what we can do here.”
Stress, spectators, crashes
Meanwhile, Hindley’s bloodshot eyes at the finish by Utrecht University told some of the story. Half of the Netherlands seemed to be on the side of the road during stage 2, passionately cheering on the Vuelta a España peloton.
It narrowed the route further. There were expected pinch points, road furniture and stressful moments, which caused several crashes and led to the abandon of Lotto Soudal rider Steff Cras.
“It was on and off with the nerves [in the bunch]. Also the crowds were super nice but it was also sometimes a little bit dangerous,” Hindley said.
“But it’s all part of it, eh. The atmosphere was really incredible. Holland’s really put on a massive show for us, which has been spectacular.
“Especially coming onto that airfield [with 20 kilometers to go], they really turned the burners on and it was full from there to the finish. I’m really happy to see Sam win and come home with the skin on my ass still,” the Australian said.
Hindley beamed as he talked about Bennett’s victory. “He’s not had the smoothest season, he’s come back from a lot of adversity.
“He’s a really nice guy and he’s a really good teammate. I’m pretty thrilled to see him get the win today because he’s worked his ass off to be here in good shape. It’s awesome for the team as well.”