• Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) ceded the leader's pink jersey on the final stage of the Giro d'Italia (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) fell short of defending the pink leader's jersey at the Giro d'Italia on the final stage time trial, but created history with the best ever finish by an Australian at the Italian Grand Tour.
By
SBS Cycling Central

26 Oct 2020 - 5:14 AM 

Geoghegan Hart went into the stage as the more favoured rider against the clock, but the final time trial at Grand Tours has a tendency to throw up surprises.

Geoghegan Hart started second to last and went out setting a fast pace, passing throught the intermediate checkpoint with the 12th fastest time on flat course that suited the pure power riders better than the climbers. 

Hindley was shown falling behind according to the GPS tracking on the motorbikes following the top two riders. That was confirmed at the intermediate checkpoint as Hindley was 33rd overall through that point, but most crucially 22 seconds behind his rival for the overall win.

Geoghegan Hart negotiated the course well, and put in more and more time into Hindley as he neared the finish, eventually crossing the line and joining team and family to await Hindley's arrival. 

The Western Australian young climber was unable to pull off an extraordinary comeback from the midpoint and ended up finishing 39 seconds behind the British rider. Hindley was crestfallen at the finish, but was able to reflect on the positives in the midst of defeat.

“Of course, it’s super disappointing to lose the jersey on the last day,” he said. “At the moment, it’s pretty hard to take but when I look back I think I’ll be super proud of how I and team rode the past three weeks. It’s a massive step forward in my career and something I’ll never forget.”

Hindley took the race lead on the penultimate stage of the Giro, capitalising on teammate Wilco Kelderman slipping off the top of the race, sitting less than a second ahead of main rival Geoghegan Hart with just the time trial to go. Hindley ended up as one of two Sunweb riders on the podium alongside his Dutch teammate. 

"I think as a team we actually didn’t put a foot wrong all race to be honest and we can be super proud of what we’ve accomplished," said Hindley. "I’d just like to thank the guys on the team, the whole team actually – the staff, everyone involved. It’s a massive operation to get here and to be on the podium in Milan; a lot of work, effort and time has gone into it and I really appreciate what the team has done to get me here.” 

Team Sunweb sports director Luke Roberts spoke proudly of how Hindley had performed over the course of the race.

"Jai had the pleasure of wearing the pink jersey into Milan, however tied on time and everything still open for the overall victory," said Roberts. "Unfortunately, we fell just short today but Jai did enough to maintain second place overall on GC with Wilco also third place on GC here. I think reflecting back on the race in general we can be really proud of how we’ve ridden here."

The future for Hindley appears rosey, already having the record of the best finish by an Australian at the Giro d'Italia with Cadel Evans' third-place in 2013 the previous best overall finish.