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Jai Hindley wins Giro d’Italia, becomes Australia’s second Grand Tour champion

Jai Hindley has become the second Australian to win one of cycling’s Grand Tours, claiming victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Hindley held off pre-race favorite Richard Carapaz on Sunday’s 17.4km individual time trial around the streets of Verona to claim overall victory by one minute, 18 seconds.

His 15th-place finish was Hindley’s best in an individual time trial at a Grand Tour.

The 26-year-old carried a lead of one minute 25 seconds over his Ecuadorian rival heading into the final stage.

“It’s a beautiful feeling,” Hindley said immediately after riding into the historic Arena di Verona.

“There were a lot of emotions out there today.

“To take the win is really incredible.”

Hindley is the first Australian to win the Giro in its 105th edition, bettering his own second-place finish from 2020.

His victory puts him alongside compatriot Cadel Evans, who made history when he won the 2011 edition of the Tour de France, as the only two Australians to have won a Grand Tour.

Jai Hindley has gone one better than in 2020.(Getty Images: Tim de Waele)

Hindley choked up when asked what it meant to be the first Australian to win the Giro d’Italia.

“He’s really incredible man,” Hindley said.

Hindley kept his emotions in check even as Advance Australia Fair was played in the ancient Roman amphitheater, beaming as he sprayed prosecco around the stage before his teammates surrounded him.

On Saturday, Hindley said he would “die for the jersey”, but it never came to that, with the Australian giving up just one second to Carapaz at the mid-way check point, a deficit that only grew to seven seconds at the finish .

“I was getting updates, I felt pretty good on the bike, I wasn’t fighting it,” he said.

“It was an incredible feeling, honestly.”

Hindley underlined his pink jersey credentials all the way back in stage nine by beating all the pre-race favorites to the summit of the Blockhaus climb.

That kept him in touch with Carapaz through the decisive third week of the race, edging to within three seconds of the Ineos-Grenadiers rider after stage 16 — the closest the two leaders have been at a Giro at such a late stage of the race since 1963.

However, thanks to a stunning ride on Saturday where he dropped his rival in the closing stages of the Passo Fedaia climb, Hindley carried a one minute, 25 second lead over Carapaz into Sunday’s final test against the clock.

Jai Hindley holds his hand up and smiles in front of a black backdrop
Jai Hindley saluted the crowd at the Arena di Verona having claimed overall victory.(Getty Images: Tim de Waele)

Despite that seemingly healthy advantage, history is literate with examples of race leaders coming unstuck in a decisive time trial — including himself at the 2020 Giro.

Hindley was in the leader’s pink jersey at this stage two years ago, only to lose out in the final time trial to Tao Geoghegan Hart and finish second by just 39 seconds.

However, Hindley and Hart were level on time in 2020, meaning any upset would be more reminiscent of Greg Lemond’s controversial passing of Lauren Fignon at the 1989 Tour de France or Primož Roglič’s stunning capitulation at the 2020 Tour — although in both those cases the riders held a lead of less than a minute.

There was to be no such nightmare for the West Australian though, as Hindley allowed just seven seconds of his lead to be taken on the day.

“I had in the back of my mind what happened in 2020,” Hindley said.

Italian time trial champion Matteo Sobrero claimed the final stage victory, completing the course in 22 minutes, 24 seconds.

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