Jai Hindley wants to be the first Australian to win the Giro d'Italia: 'I'm not here to put socks on a centipede'

Bora-Hansgrohe rider sits second on general classification, just seven seconds behind Richard Carapaz

Jai Hindley
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jai Hindley wants to win the Giro d'Italia. This might not sound particularly surprising, considering the Australian currently sits second on general classification, seven seconds behind race leader Richard Carapaz, but it is refreshing to hear this honesty.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider is back at the top of cycling after a tumultuous 2021. He was not necessarily counted among the favourites heading into this edition thanks to this, despite finishing second in the 2020 race; now, with six stages left, Hindley is surely one of the few contenders for the maglia rosa in Verona.

Asked if he wants to be the first Australian to win the Giro d'Italia, only the second to win a Grand Tour at all, he is definite.

"Yeah, for sure. 100%. Like, I'm not here to put socks on a centipede. We're here to win the race. Why not? I wouldn't be here if I didn't think the team could win. We're all in, we're all in to try and win the race."

The man from Perth was kind enough to explain that his centipede idiom meant that he isn't here just to waste time, he is here to win.

He spent just one day in the pink jersey at the 2020 Giro, before being pipped by Tao Geoghegan Hart in the final time trial in Milan 18 months ago, an experience he described as "bittersweet".

"It would be super nice to be back in the pink jersey, after only wearing it for a day in 2020," he said. "It was bittersweet. I also had a pretty rough season in 2021. So for me, personally, it's really nice to be back at the pointy end of racing. The pink jersey is a huge motivation and would be very nice."

Hindley has performed to his limit at this race so far, winning the stage atop Blockhaus, proving his speed on the difficult Torino stage on the Saturday just gone as well.

To come back from his "super hard year" last season, which he described as a "difficult period", is very impressive. "I could talk about it all day if you wanted to," he said. He wants to prove that his 2020 podium was not just a fluke, something which seems ridiculous to suggest at the moment.

"It was really frustrating because I finished 2020 with the second place at the Giro and then I had a really high expectation of myself coming into 2021," he explained. "I really wanted to prove to people, but more so to myself that I was capable of riding at that top level. 

"And that 2020 wasn't just a fluke, like a lot of people on social media think. It was really frustrating to have all these setbacks and, you know, to have all this stuff going on, which really sort of ruined my year last year. I didn't lose focus, even with all the setbacks, I really trained really hard last year to get back to a high level. 

"After each setback I just kept losing the form. It was really hard to just compete at a decent level. I think ultimately, the change to the new team was like a breath of fresh air and just like a new start a press of the reset button, if you will."

Jai hindley and landa in the sprint for stage 14

(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Hindley moved from Team DSM to Bora-Hansgrohe over the winter, as part of the German team's new focus on GC riding, after the Peter Sagan years. Unlike others who left DSM, however, he has nothing but good words to say about it.

"I wouldn't say there was anything wrong with my old team," he said. "It was just a different team. I spent four years there, it was, in my opinion, it was probably the perfect team for me to turn pro in. I learned a lot. I owe a lot to that team, they gave me a lot of opportunities and, opportunities that I got at this team, which I probably wouldn't have got any other team, which is something I'll always remember.

"I think after doing four years there, it's just healthy to change to grow as a person and as a bike rider. The opportunity came along to join Bora-Hansgrohe. I took it with both hands. It's always been a cool team that I've really admired in terms of their racing style.

"It just looked like a cool team to be a part of, and I'm super happy, to be honest. It's been nice to just change everything up, you know, new everything, new bike, new teammates, new DSes, new coaching staff, everything."

As good as Hindley is finding his present, and as close as he is to the race lead, there is still so much to come this week.

The final six stages contain 18,961 metres of climbing, with Tuesday's stage 16 and Saturday's stage 20 looking particularly tough. Then there is the matter of the final day time trial, which is where the Australian lost the race in 2020. "Every second counts," he said.

Before then, however, there might be a lot of fluctuating in the general classification, something Hindley is ready for.

"Tomorrow, I think it's gonna be epic," he said. "Like straight out the gates, it's gonna be a really hard stage. Also after the rest day, it's always an interesting one, you know, guys always have like mixed feelings after rest day. 

"I think tomorrow we could see some big things happening in terms of guys losing time or guys gaining time. I think tomorrow will be a pretty, pretty important day. I'm really keen to be up at the pointy end tomorrow."

Hindley has talked the talk, now he has got to walk the walk, or cycle the cycle, I suppose. Everything he has done so far in this race has suggested he has the ability, now the Alps will show whether he can continue his form.

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