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Jai Hindley on 2023 Giro d’Italia route: ‘It’s not ideal for me’

Looking down barrel at three time trials, the 2022 champion on fence about Giro d'Italia defense.

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Jai Hindley didn’t like what he saw at his first glance at the time trial-heavy Giro d’Italia route unveiled Monday.

With three time trials across the Italian grand tour’s parcours, the 2022 winner admits that his climbing advantages will take a hit against the clock.

“That’s probably three more than I would like,” Hindley sold SBS about the three time trials as part of the 2023 course. “I’ll continue to work at it and try to make it more of a strength. For sure, it’s not ideal for me, but you can’t always get what you want.

“But it’s not me organizing the route, so I just take it as it comes. There were three time trials in 2020 and I was still second, and I think I’m also a bit better at time trialling since then.”

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Hindley blazed to victory in 2022 thanks to his consistent climbing and the relatively light load of TTs across the route in May. It was Australia’s second grand tour win and the first for Bora-Hansgrohe.

With 70km of time trials on tap in 2023, Hindley knows it will be more of a challenge to defend pink.

Perhaps a Tour de France debut

Bora-Hansgrohe riders and staff celebrate the Giro victory. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

And then there’s the Tour de France.

After racing four editions of the Giro and two starts at the Vuelta a España, the 26-year-old has yet to race the Tour.

Except for the departure of Wilco Kelderman, the German team’s fleet of GC riders is largely unchanged for 2023. Bob Jungels signs on for 2023, but he isn’t expected to take leadership reins at the Tour.

Aleksandr Vlasov rode to a solid fifth place at the 2022 edition in his Tour debut despite falling ill early, and will want leadership responsibility during at least one grand tour.

Hindley said the team will wait to see how the Tour route shapes up after seeing the first details at the Tour presentation later this month.

“I haven’t made up my mind, and we haven’t had too many discussions about next year already with the team, so it’s hard to say,” Hindley said about 2023.

“Ultimately, it will come down to what the Tour route is like a bit and then we’ll see from that. But it’s also something to go into the Giro as defending champ, I’ve never done that before so that’s also a big factor.”

Final week of Giro still hard

Hindley celebrates Giro victory in May. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Hindley took some solace in the fact that the Giro, at its core, remains a climber’s grand tour.

The first two time trials are relatively flat, with an opening day time trail at 18.5km and another flat course on stage 9. In between the Giro is stacking up a typical first-week mix of short but steep uphill finales, and one major mountaintop finish at Gran Sasso.

The closing week still lives up to the Giro’s reputation of being a climber’s paradise, and should set up a balance between the pure climbers and any time trialists who might take early gains.

The penultimate stage is a climbing time trial at Monte Lussari, which features 1,000 meters of elevation packed into an individual time trial.

“That time trial at the end, I like the look of that. Uphill time trials have sort of been forgotten about over the years and they’re actually pretty cool,” Hindley said.

“If you run out of legs in the final TT, that could cost you the race. I think those two stages (Stages 19 and 20), coming on the back of the three weeks, will be pretty crucial,” he told SBS.

“It’s like every year on the Giro, those are the stages where guys can come unstuck. This year will be no different. This will be a race of attrition and you either have it or you don’t in the last few days.”