Australian Jai Hindley is in tantalising sight of an historic triumph in the Giro d’Italia after a blistering ride on the famed Marmolada climb on the penultimate stage.
Hindley blasted away from the race leader and former winner Richard Carapaz on the last ascent of Saturday’s penultimate stage to storm into a handsome one minute 25 seconds overall lead with just one career-defining time trial to go.
Just as two years ago in Milan, the Western Australian will be wearing the race leader’s maglia rosa – pink jersey – going into the Sunday’s race against the clock in Verona.
On that occasion in 2020, the Perth rider, who had started the time trial on the same overall time as Tao Geoghegan Hart, missed out in heartbreaking fashion, losing ultimately by 37 seconds to the Briton.
But the scenario is very different this time, with Hindley holding a substantial lead over the field, meaning he is in handsome pole position to become the first Australian winner of the race and only the second ever to win a grand tour, following Cadel Evans’ Tour de France victory in 2011.
Italian Alessandri Covi won the 168km stage from Belluno to Marmolada by 32 seconds but the real drama was going on behind as Hindley made his attack to distance Carapaz in the final 2.5 kilometres and defeat the Olympic champion decisively on the Dolomites’ highest mountain.
“I knew this would be the crucial stage of the race, with the brutal finish,” Hindley said. “I knew if you had the legs you can make a difference.
“We stayed patient until today, and it is amazing. We could not have timed it better.
“When I heard Carapaz was dropping down, I just went all out. We will see how it goes tomorrow, it is always hard to say how a time trial will go.”