A month after his heroic victory at the Giro d’Italia, Australian cyclist Jai Hindley says he was still processing the feat to become just the second Australian to win a Grand Tour.
Most important points:
- Australian cyclist Jai Hindley says he still “can’t believe” he won the Giro d’Italia one month after the feat
- The 26-year-old is aiming for more glory at the Vuelta a España and UCI Road World Championships over the next two months
- The Western Australian hopes to return home in September for a “big ride” with a warm welcome from the state government planned
While the 26-year-old Perth cyclist couldn’t go home to celebrate his win, Hindley felt the tidal wave of support from the Australian sporting community from afar.
“It’s still really crazy when I think about it. I still can’t believe it, to be honest,” Hindley said.
“I was not [in Australia] but i felt a lot of support [from] everybody. It’s really nice if you have that support [from] an entire community. It’s really very special.”
In May, Hindley became just the second Australian to win a major tour, along with Cadel Evans’ Tour de France triumph in 2011.
And while things have calmed down on the road, the UCI WorldTeam cyclist Bora-Hansgrohe is more than aware of the importance of his victory, which could lead to more opportunities among the elite of his sport: “100 percent [it changes things]†
“It was really a huge achievement and a big dream of mine since I was a young kid to not only take part in a big tour, but maybe one day win one…to do that now at the age of 26 to do is definitely a real game-changer,” he admitted.
“You know, it’s something you work for your whole career, your whole life.
“When you get that big result, I can’t describe it. I think it will open some other doors and we’ll see what comes after that.
“I always had that confidence and, yeah, it doesn’t really change much in that aspect… but to win a Grand Tour I think it would give me a lot more confidence, especially in the next Grand Tours I to do.”
La Vuelta, World Cup at home on the radar
Following his historic feat, Hindley’s attention now turns to the rest of the year, where he’ll be eyeing more glory in the third installment of the Grand Tour at La Vuelta in August, and a home UCI Road World Championships in September. , which will be hosted in Wollongong.
Before the Vuelta a España next month, there is an altitude camp in which Hindley is already preparing for the 23-day journey with only two rest days.
A lot has changed for Hindley since the last event in 2019 where he finished 32nd. Then there were compatriots Jack Haig (third overall) and Michael Storer, who won the mountains classification, in the race.
“It’s going to be a really tough race,” Hindley said. “A lot of the real strong [general classification] guys will be there so it will be a class field… guys from the Giro, guys doing the tour will be there.
“I think the level will be very high and hopefully I can stand there. That would be pretty cool.”
After the grueling three-week race, Hindley says he will focus on the World Championships, with Australia hosting the event for the first time since 2010, when it was held in Geelong and Melbourne.
However, he will have to wait for roster to represent Australia, something he doesn’t take for granted..
“I think everyone in the team will be worthy of this selection and I think they will bring a class team to the race, so hopefully I can be there.
“If I can be there and wear the green and gold in Wollongong, that would really be a once in a career race. That would be really nice.”
The Western Australian government has also announced it will aim to give Hindley a hero’s welcome home to the winner of the Giro d’Italia.
“A lot of people have actually asked me what I thought would be good, and I think just a big ride or something would be nice because then everyone can join in: kids, parents, anyone who wants to rock can be a bit of a rit and it would be nice to see all those people who have supported me as well,” Hindley said.
“I think if we did something like that, it would be a lot of fun.”
Although Hindley will not be competing in the Tour de France this month, he is already in his sights for next year.
“It’s really hard to deal with that physical strain… next year I would really like to go to the Tour,” he said.
“Whether that’s helping someone else in the team or going for the result yourself, so be it.
“But I’d really like to go and just get the whole experience and learn as much as I can, and also see what I can do at that highest level of cycling because it’s the pinnacle of our sport… I’ve never had I I’ve done it before, but I really want to do it.”
Hindley names Cadel and Porte as cycling idols
After winning this year’s Giro d’Italia – one place better than his podium finish in 2020 – Hindley has reaffirmed his name among the elites of Australian cycling, with Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Jack Haig the only men to finish a podium in the Grand Tour.
When asked about his place among those names, he is humble.
“All those older pioneers of Australian sport that I really look up to,” Hindley said.
“Especially guys like Richie and Cadel, if you look at them, it’s the exceptional drivers.”
Hindley added that Australian partnership was something that could not be taken for granted in sport, including camaraderie, respect and a supportive environment of mentors and idols.
“I spoke to Cadel, really for the first time, a few years ago when I came second in the Giro. He sent me a very nice message for the [time trial]† He had been in situations like this before and he reached out and said that if I needed someone to talk to, he would always be there.
“It’s really special. I don’t think you get that in too many other sports.
“It’s just really nice to have the support of those guys too, because they were my idols.”
But for now, Hindley is still riding high on his success in Europe.
“I think I have a few more bike races to win to be in the same category as those guys, but yeah, it’s really nice to be the first Aussie to win the Giro,” he said.
“Having my name in the history books is really cool, but I still have a lot of work to be there with those guys. Just a little bit of time to make that happen.”