Authentic jersey

‘I will die for the jersey tomorrow’: Jai Hindley takes the lead in the Giro

It took until the final road stage of this year’s Giro, but there is finally some respite at the top.

Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the lead after dropping Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) on the brutal slopes of the last climb of the day, the Passo Fedaia. He finished Stage 20 in seventh place 1-28 ahead of Carapaz who had started the day in pink, just a hair ahead of Hindley. The Australian also gained time on his other closest rival in the GC, Mikel Landa (Bahrain – Victorious).

“I knew I had to try something,” Hindley said afterwards. “This stage was perfect in my opinion. It was a big day with a lot of elevation and a very difficult final climb with very steep slopes. I knew it was going to be decisive.

And it was. The lead between Carapaz and Hindley had remained a matter of seconds, partly due to the lack of summit finishes and the very steep grades of the race. Attacks on the climbs had, so far, been rare and the three-second gap before stage 20 reflected the lack of action from the GC.

“We stayed patient and really saved our games for today,” Hindley continued. “And it was perfect. Lenny (Lennard Kämna) was on the road in a breakaway and he couldn’t have timed it better to pull back and give me a boost on the road.

In what Kämna would describe after the stage as a “tactic”, he gave up the day’s break to join his team leader on some of the steeper slopes of the Marmalada. With Carapaz now isolated at this late stage, the extra man made all the difference. Kamna pulled hard, with Hindley in tow, knocking Carapaz off their wheel. The elastic had finally broken.

“When I heard Carapaz was dropped, I gave it my all,” Hindley said. However, he admitted he was surprised he could take so much time from the Ecuadorian.

“I didn’t expect to get this much,” he said. “I mean Carapaz is a world class driver. He is an Olympic champion. He’s a fucking good cyclist.

But even great cyclists can have rest days. Carapaz cut an uncomfortable figure as he climbed the double-digit inclines, his lead gone and perhaps hopes of winning his second Giro gone with him as well.

“I wasn’t sure how he felt, but I knew I had to give him a good shot today,” Hindley said. “And that’s what I did and it paid off.”

“It’s really emotional to be back in the pink jersey,” he said. “It’s a dream come true to wear the shirt again.”

In something akin to deja vu, he’ll once again don the pink maglia for the final stage time trial, just like he did in 2020. This time his lead is much bigger – he is 1-25 over Carapaz in the general classification – and he hopes the cushion will do a better result. During this previous edition, he lost time and the title against the Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers).

When asked if his lead would be enough, he remained evasive, perhaps not wanting to jeopardize his chances given what happened to him just two years ago.

“I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “It’s always hard to say how a time trial will go on the last day of a three-week race. But I will die for the jersey tomorrow.