Jai Hindley makes history for Australia and Bora-Hansgrohe
Australia could only boast one Grand Tour winner before Sunday, with Cadel Evans winning the 2011 Tour de France. Bora-Hansgrohe had never even put a rider on the podium of a three-week race in their history. Step forward Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The man from Perth was almost faultless over the Giro d'Italia, barely losing any time to his GC rivals, and then pouncing when he needed to, on the crucial stage 20. 19 months ago, Hindley was crushed by his final day performance, as he conceded time to Tao Geoghegan Hart, and finished second. This time around, he would do it differently.
With a lead of 1-25 going into the final day, Hindley was always comfortable in his time trial, and yet still put in an excellent perfomance, giving up just seven seconds to Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers). It meant his first Grand Tour win was barely threatened on Sunday.
For Australia, a new racing icon is born. In fact, this is a bit of a golden age of GC riders from the other side of the world, with Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën), Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious), and Michael Storer (Groupama FDJ) all performing well in the last year.
Hindley will now be a hero in his home country, especially in Western Australia. Even if he does not back this up, he has done something historic. Don't expect him to fade, though, not now he has looked at the top of the sport. Meanwhile, Bora's plan of putting a lot of focus on GC riding has paid off, and they have well and truly moved on from the Peter Sagan era.
Richard Carapaz has a disappointing birthday
"What did you get for your 29th birthday?" "Ah a second place in the Giro."
This may or may not be a real conversation Carapaz has with someone in the coming days, but he will be bitterly disappointed that his race ended like this. A podium position in a Grand Tour is nothing to be sniffed at, and yet to go from being so close to the win to being over a minute away must be galling.
The Ecuadorean is a great cyclist, winner of the Olympic road race last year, the Giro in 2019, and yet he ultimately could not match Hindley over the three weeks, conceding time at the crucial point, on stage 20. Not even one of the time trials of his life, which saw him finish in the top ten on the day, could save his race.
He will look back on this as an opportunity missed, as will Ineos Grenadiers. The team head home from Italy empty handed, without a stage win or a trophy. Might it have been different if Richie Porte hadn't abandoned? Probably not, given how tight the GC is, but they will be ruing the couple of kilometres on the Marmolada which decided everything.
Matteo Sobrero blows the final time trial to pieces
Something is clearly going on at Team BikeExchange-Jayco with time trials. Both of the races against the clock at this Giro were won by riders from the Australian team, Simon Yates winning in Budapest and then Matteo Sobrero in Verona.
The team’s new bike partner, Giant, along with the company’s wheels from Cadex, have clearly been a big part of this. That might be damning in terms of Scott and then Bianchi, the team’s recent bike sponsors, but what is also obvious is that Giant have wanted to make a splash on their return to the WorldTour.
It almost looked easy for Sobrero on Sunday, as the Italian time trial champion blew the field away, putting 23 seconds into Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) over just 17.4km. He was clearly the best on the day, ahead at the first time check, and never looked like he would be caught, despite so many riders coming after him.
He remained in his TT position all the way to the top of the one climb on the course, and then stayed down on the descent, maximising his aero capability, but also takin risks as he went. It paid off.
We are in a golden age of Italian time trialling, with Sobrero following Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) in winning a final day race against the clock. Seeing them fight against each other in top form will be a must-watch spectacle now.
Lo Squalo says goodbye to Il Giro
When Vincenzo Nibali (Astana-Qazaqstan) first rode the Giro, Jai Hindley was 11. The Italian has been one of the outstanding riders of this generation, winning almost everything he could have won: the Giro, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España, Il Lombardia and Milan-San Remo.
This Giro, Nibali’s 11th, was the Astana rider’s last. It was a bittersweet ride for Lo Squalo, or the shark, as he managed to haul his 37-year-old body round to an impressive fourth place on GC, but he did not manage a stage win. The roar from the crowd said it all, he is the crowd favourite, the most recognisable cyclist in Italy,
He will leave a vacuum in the sport in the country, as there is not yet another GC rider to replace Nibali just yet, a few hopefuls, but nothing concrete. This is a crucial moment for cycling in Italy, as to whether it will continue to be a big sport or continue to be edged out.
All that can be said now, though, is that Nibali is a true great, and he will be missed when he retires at the end of the year; to still be putting in performances as he has this Giro proves his enduring quality. Congratulations to him.
Tight Giro ends up not being so tight
Heading into stage 20, just three seconds separated Carapaz in first and Hindley in second, with Landa a further minute behind in third. One expected the trend of tight final general classifications to continue at the end of this race, but it was blown apart in the final two days.
Hindley ended up winning by 1-18 over his Ecuadorean rival, and Landa was over three minutes behind him in the end. The GC was tight at this Giro for so long that it seems almost crazy that in the end there was so much time between the trio, but that proves what three weeks of hard racing and climbing does to the legs.
Despite looking each other's match for 19 days, Hindley proved the stronger in the end, and the race ends up looking better as a result, as the strongest man clearly won. This was not a race won on bonus seconds or on a count-back, but by a decisively strong attack. Next, we will wait to see if the Tour is as tight as this Giro was, well, up to the last weekend anyway.
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