• Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) square off at the Giro d'Italia (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) faces the biggest test of his young career as he enters the final stage of the Giro d'Italia equal on time with Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) as the pair will battle it out for the final maglia rosa at the 2020 edition of the Italian Grand Tour.
By
SBS Cycling Central

25 Oct 2020 - 5:29 AM 

Stage 18 and 20 of the Giro d'Italia are already in the history books and will be remembered as some of the more dramatic mountain stages in recent Grand Tour memory. Two overall leaders of the race were ousted as the pair of Hindley and Geoghegan Hart (with Rohan Dennis the engine), motoring clear of the rest of the elite climbers in the field. 

Hindley won the first stage after sitting on, but towards the end of Stage 20 on the climb of Sestriere it was Geoghegan Hart who was able to be the more defensive and capitalised with a stage win of his own, locking up the race. Hindley's teammate Wilco Kelderman tumbled out of the race lead after again losing a sizeable chunk of time, after shipping time on Stage 18 after losing touch on the climb of the Stelvio.

The awarding of the pink jersey to Hindley comes back to the slimmest of countbacks, fractions of a second from the previous two time trials. The third time trial, a 15.7 kilometre flat route around Milan, will decide the ultimate winner of the Giro d'Italia.

Hindley moves into Giro lead ahead of thrilling TT finale
Australian Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) moved into the race lead on the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia with another stellar performance in the Italian Alps as teammate Wilco Kelderman faltered and slipped out of the pink jersey.
Hindley wins Giro queen stage and moves within touching distance of pink
Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) claimed the stage win after a dramatic stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia saw the general classification upended on the ascent of the legendary climb of the Stelvio.

Neither is a noted exponent of the discipline, and certainly neither will challenge the likes of Dennis or newly minted world champion Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) in the 'race of truth'.

With the pink jersey came the responsibility of press duties post-race, and Hindley was asked a lot about his rival for pink in Milan, whom he rode side-by-side with in the final kilometres of Stage 20.

"I just wanted to get a look on how he was looking, his style, to see if he was tired or not," Hindley said. "I really tried to shake him on the last climb, but unfortunately, I couldn't get rid of him. Kudos to him for the way he's riding.

"He's actually a pretty good friend of mine, so it's cool to be racing alongside him and fighting for the pink jersey."

When it came to forecasting the time trial, Hindley didn't give any predictions, but drew attention to the tough nature of the race to date, with an incredibly tough third week of competition in the riders' legs.

"I think he's shown that he can time trial well, but it's also the last day of a three-week race and you never what's going to happen," Hindley said. "You never know how your legs are going to feel when you wake up tomorrow morning. That's the beauty of the Giro d'Italia, it's such a hard race.

"But for me personally, I'll die in that time trial to try to keep this jersey."

Hindley is not a time-trial specialist, never disgracing himself, but at the same time never challenging for victory in the race against the clock. Geoghegan Hart finished over a minute ahead of Hindley on the Giro Stage 14 TT. Hindley finished 39 seconds ahead on the opening test against the clock, but Geoghegan Hart was a later starter than Hindley and had to cope with the fierce winds that hampered later starters.

The Western Australian rising star brushed off the form comparisons though ahead of the final test.

"It's at the end of a three-week Grand Tour and I'm going to do the best time trial of my life tomorrow," said Hindley. "Regardless if he time trials better or not, I can only do what I can do. That's also what's so great about the time trial, there's no hiding and it's the race of truth. At the end of tomorrow, I think you'll have a worthy winner of the Giro d'Italia."