Cadel Evans was seriously impressed with the way but warns his next big goal of having a crack at claiming the Tour de France will be a tougher assignment.
Eleven years ago, Hindley, as a teenager, watched from the roadside as Evans competed at the Tour in 2011, when he became the only Australian to win the yellow jersey.
The retired champion returned the favour last weekend when he travelled to Verona, Italy to watch Hindley seal victory and become the first Australian to claim the Giro.
Evans and Hindley are the only Australians to have claimed one of cycling’s three grand tours – and Hindley hopes to match another one of Evans’ achievements.
The 26-year-old has outlined designs on and when asked days after his Giro triumph if he could one day win the yellow jersey he said: I’ll never say never. That would be the ultimate dream, but I’m definitely not going to say it’s not possible.
Hindley won the Giro 20 years after Evans first wore the pink leader’s jersey there, pinning his title hopes on the penultimate stage of the three-week race where from Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), who, having gone pedal stroke for pedal stroke throughout the campaign, cracked under Hindley’s strength and some beautiful tactics from his Bora-hansgrohe team.
The way Jai rode, and his team rode, considering the situation impressed me more than his victory, Evans said.
What really impressed me the most was the way the team went in, they believed in themselves and on paper they weren’t a big-name team, but they all rode at their best and unified.
Asked what advice he’d give Hindley and Bora-hansgrohe, the team having only recently turned its attention to winning three-week races, ahead of a future Tour title bid, Evans touched on the differences between the two events.
The third week of the Giro is notoriously difficult with its terrain and inclement weather, which suited Hindley, who physically gets better the further into a race he gets. Hindley found managing mental fatigue more than physical fatigue was his biggest challenge, which Evans relates to, but the Tour, being the pinnacle of the sport, pushes the body and the mind even further.
Bora-hansgrohe, as a team, I’d say to them what you’ve done has been absolutely fantastic, keep doing what you’re doing but now look at what you’ve done, how can you do that better, and do that going towards the Tour, Evans said.
The Tour is different from the Giro, so the strategy and the way you ride, and the way you’ll be considered and your competitors and everything is going to be different.
The Tour is a different race. The level of the peloton is ridiculous. It’s the best of the best at their best, Evans continued. As an athlete you don’t want to be affected by the pressure, but unfortunately there is a lot of expectations and non-sporting stress around that, I find.
Everyone at the Tour de France for example, the Giro is similar but not quite to the same extent, is just thinking and talking about the Tour and the race, which is okay for a day or two or three or four, but it’s three weeks. After you’ve had a six-month build up, and maybe you’re a favourite where nearly everyone you talk to only talks about the Tour, by the end of it you want to talk about anything other than the Tour.
Evans said that winning the yellow jersey changed his life, and Hindley will surely be able to say the same about the Giro.
He’ll now forever be a marked man and in preparing for an assault at the Tour would have to anticipate a showdown with the current benchmark, two-time and reigning champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), who won two yellow jerseys before his 23rd birthday.
I think he might be a once-in-more-than-a-lifetime talent the way he’s going, Evans said of Pogacar. Maybe because he’s come so good early he’s not going to have as long a career.
You’d have to put all the weight and pressure on him and try and follow. What could you do? Every year they’ve [UAE Team Emirates] reinforced their team and been solider and solider. I guess the onus is going to fall more and more on them.
Hindley, though, in many ways has proved he’s up for the fight. Pogacar has never had a bad day, never had to return from adversity. But he has.
Hindley’s career breakthrough at the Giro came off a 2021 campaign marred by illness and injury through which he was largely forgotten. The setbacks were compounded when he couldn’t, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s border closures, come home or see his family.
Imagine not seeing your parents for two-and-a-half years, it’s ridiculous actually, Hindley said.
It’s really crazy, especially last year, with such a roller coaster of a season, it was really tough. When you’re going through the shit, and then you can’t physically see your parents it’s brutal, really brutal.
Hindley’s team arranged for his parents to be in Italy and see him stand on the podium in Verona, which the humble climber from Perth put on par with winning.
They kept supporting me, and they’re like my No. 1 fans, so to have them at the finish was truly what dreams are made of, he said.
Hindley will have to wait a little longer for a homecoming party, but plans to be in Australia after a long absence to compete in the men’s road race at the
It’s not every day you get to do the world championships on home soil, so I would definitely put my hand up to do it and hopefully get selected for the team, he said.
It’s [266. 9 kilometres] and quite a lot of elevation of climbing, so it’s going to be a really tough race as the world championships is every year.
It would be special to be a part of that team. I don’t know how I’ll be going at that time of year, but normally, I do La Vuelta and if I could do worlds after the Vuelta that would be really nice.
Hindley hasn’t confirmed his race schedule for the remainder of the season, but a former coach tips the course for this year’s Vuelta suits him more than Giro route he just conquered.