Nobody will accuse Australian cyclists of coasting to victory in grand tours. The country which currently supplies the largest number and arguably highest quality of non-European athletes to the sport of cycling began the day with a single grand tour victory to its credit, delivered by perhaps the finest Australian cyclist, former world champion and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans. But that couldn’t happen until Evans had tasted early but fleeting success in the Giro d’Italia, then began a string of near misses at the Tour de France, each more cruel than the last, before finally taking control of the race and his legacy for good with the victory in 2011.
Today BORA Hansgrohe rider Jai Hindley, of Perth, capital of Western Australia, completed his country’s second quixotic path to grand tour success, winning the Giro d’Italia over former Giro champion Richard Carapaz, easily surviving the final day time trial into Verona with all but a few seconds of his overnight lead intact. Onstage after the confirmation of his win, Hindley acknowledged his own disappointments en route to Verona, saying he “wasn’t going to let that happen again.” “That” was a day in 2020 which at least superficially resembled the situation unfolding over the final weekend of the Giro, and which ended on that occasion in supreme disappointment as Tao Geoghegan Hart came past Hindley who, like this year, had just taken the maglia rosa on the eve of the 2020 Giro finale, only to pass it over to Hart for the closing ceremony.
But Hart and Hindley had started the day less than a second apart, and while Hindley’s loss was circumstantially disappointing, it was hardly unexpected. Hart was the superior time triallist, and had set himself up well by matching the brilliant climbing of Hindley the previous day in the high mountains. Then, Hindley ran out of climbing meters before he could position himself for the overall win.
This time he made no such mistake. With Carapaz in pink, Hindley waited until the penultimate stage to not just take the jersey but a suitable buffer which represented his superiority as a climber, such that nobody could use the final time trial to deny him the win. Hindley decisively dropped Carapaz and turned a three second deficit into a 1:25 lead, rendering the final crono in Verona to little more than an aerodynamic parade to the podium for his trophy. Clad all in a pink skinsuit for the second time at the end of the Giro, Hindley rode confidently to a 15th place finish, jammed that jumbuck into his tucker bag, and went Waltzing Matilda onto the all-pink stage of the ancient Colosseum of Verona for his coronation. [Yes, I am having fun now.]
So much has changed in the two years for Hindley. Most importantly, he has moved on from what is now DSM to BORA, a squad which revived his ascendancy — briefly stalled out in 2021 with injury — and which surrounded him with capable assistance, including fellow overall challengers Emanuel Buchmann (7th on GC), Wilco Kelderman (17th overall), and most importantly Lennard Kämna, who always seemed to be right where Hindley would need a teammate to be. The 25-year-old German, whose own future looks bright as more of an all-rounder, won the Mount Etna stage and ended 19th overall, but was last seen putting himself right where Hindley would like a teammate to be on the final stage, coming back from the break to pace Hindley right as he made his decisive attack to distance Carapaz. It seems altogether fitting that Kämna ended today’s stage in the same time as Hindley, as if he was laying down exactly the right time trial effort for his teammate to follow to victory.
The cherry on this Australian gelato sundae was the stage victory of Matteo Sobrero, riding for the Team BikeExchange squad rooted Down Under, the team (then called Michelton Scott) for which Hindley turned pro in 2017, although he only rode for the home team that one season. Sobrero achieved his first grand tour stage success in perhaps the best way possible, riding into Verona clad in the Italian tricolore indicating his status as the nation’s time trial champion. He defeated the seemingly ever-present Thymen Arensman of Hindley’s other former team DSM by 23 seconds, and an even more notable personage in Mathieu van der Poel — finishing a grand tour for the first time in his storied career — by 40 seconds.
Sobrero’s victory was the fifth stage win of the Giro for Italian riders, making up for the lack of suspense among the GC contenders, where top hope Vincenzo Nibali, the two-time winner, seemed to slip away early in the race. However, Nibali improved as the race wore on, seemingly unburdened by his announcement after stage five in his home of Messina that he will retire after this season, and the Shark of the Straits rode proudly to fourth overall in Verona and was loudly saluted by an adoring audience in the Colosseum.
Arensman’s performance, including 18th overall, made the Netherlands perhaps the race’s next biggest international presence. Van der Poel, the country’s biggest cycling star in a while, took the opening stage and held the maglia rosa until Mount Etna. From there, Koen Bouwman took up the mantle of highest-climbing rider from a low-lying country, winning two stages and becoming the first Dutchman to ever take home the Giro’s King of the Mountains maglia azzurra. This surprising achievement helped Jumbo Visma, the country’s signature squad, overcome the disappointment of former Giro winner Tom Dumoulin’s underwhelming return to the race, which ended in withdrawal. But for Dutch fans dreaming of bigger things, the combination of climbing and time trialling excellence displayed by the 22-year-old Arensman might be a bit more exciting.
His third season has seen Arensman spending lots of time in very interesting company, from matching guys like Pello Bilbao and Romain Bardet in Tirreno-Adriatico’s queen stage, to taking third overall in the prestigious Giro warm-up Tour of the Alps. Today’s stage was his best performance in a time trial, but also his third consecutive top-10 finish in the discipline. This from a guy who has won in cyclocross and taken third in the U23 Paris-Roubaix.
For Carapaz and third-placed Mikel Landa, there can be little doubt that they were among the strongest but not quite at the top. Landa’s long history in Italy has seen him now take his second podium finish and third top-five at the Giro, though he is unlikely to improve on that with so much young talent around. He never looked like he was about to win, but Landa rode consistently enough to justify the endless effort his Bahrain team seemed to expend on his behalf. Carapaz, meanwhile, has to reload and see if and when he can extend his illustrious career. At 29, his best years are right now, as confirmed by his Olympic gold medal last summer and his generally stellar performance at the Giro this year, until faltering yesterday. The margins between victory and second place might be measured in minutes, but in truth they are microscopic differences played out over extended periods of time until they look like a bigger deal than they are. Carapaz is a grand tour winner in fact and in quality, so while he won’t be anyone’s pick to knock off the Slovenians at the Tour, he will undoubtedly be back for more grand tour GC campaigns.
Finally, Arnaud Démare finished 72nd today, and Juan Pedro Lopez cruised home in 57th place, enabling each to take home the jerseys they had held on to for some time. Démare has now won the points competition at the Giro d’Italia now twice in the past three years. Lopez, who hung on to the maglia rosa for ten days before ceding it to Carapaz, walks away with the maglia bianca for best young rider, taking an impressive tenth place on the GC as well.
- SOBRERO Matteo, Team BikeExchange - Jayco, 0:22:24
- ARENSMAN Thymen, Team DSM, at 0:23
- VAN DER POEL Mathieu, Alpecin-Fenix, at 0:40
- MOLLEMA Bauke, Trek - Segafredo, at 1:08
- TULETT Ben, INEOS Grenadiers, at 1:12
- SCHMID Mauro, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, at 1:17
- CORT Magnus, EF Education-EasyPost, at 1:18
- FOSS Tobias, Jumbo-Visma, at 1:19
- HEPBURN Michael, Team BikeExchange - Jayco, at 1:24
- CARAPAZ Richard, INEOS Grenadiers, s.t.
- HINDLEY Jai, BORA - hansgrohe, 86:31:14
- CARAPAZ Richard, INEOS Grenadiers, at 1:18
- LANDA Mikel, Bahrain - Victorious, at 3:24
- NIBALI Vincenzo, Astana Qazaqstan Team, at 9:02
- BILBAO Pello, Bahrain - Victorious, at 9:14
- HIRT Jan, Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux, at 9:28
- BUCHMANN Emanuel, BORA - hansgrohe, at 13:19
- POZZOVIVO Domenico, Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux, at 17:29
- CARTHY Hugh, EF Education-EasyPost, at 17:54
- LÓPEZ Juan Pedro, Trek - Segafredo, at 18:40
- VALVERDE Alejandro, Movistar Team, at 23:24
- BUITRAGO Santiago, Bahrain - Victorious, at 24:23
- HAMILTON Lucas, Team BikeExchange - Jayco, at 28:02
- MARTIN Guillaume, Cofidis, at 28:37
- FORTUNATO Lorenzo, EOLO-Kometa, at 33:15
- SIVAKOV Pavel, INEOS Grenadiers, at 41:43
- KELDERMAN Wilco, BORA - hansgrohe, at 41:45
- ARENSMAN Thymen, Team DSM, at 42:31
- KÄMNA Lennard, BORA - hansgrohe, at 43:58
- OOMEN Sam, Jumbo-Visma, at 1:04:22
- BOUWMAN Koen, Jumbo-Visma, at 1:06:03
- DOMBROWSKI Joe, Astana Qazaqstan Team, at 1:12:21
- CHEREL Mikaël, AG2R Citroën Team, at 1:22:20
- COVILI Luca, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, at 1:30:24
- CICCONE Giulio, Trek - Segafredo, at 1:32:25
- DÉMARE Arnaud Groupama - FDJ, 254 points
- GAVIRIA Fernando, UAE Team Emirates, 136
- CAVENDISH Mark, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, 132
- VAN DER POEL Mathieu, Alpecin-Fenix, 105
- DAINESE Alberto, Team DSM, 95
- BOUWMAN Koen, Jumbo-Visma, 294 points
- CICCONE Giulio, Trek - Segafredo, 163
- COVI Alessandro, UAE Team Emirates, 102
- ROSA Diego, EOLO-Kometa, 94
- FORMOLO Davide, UAE Team Emirates, 87
Best Young Rider
- LÓPEZ Juan Pedro, Trek - Segafredo, at 86:49:54
- BUITRAGO Santiago, Bahrain - Victorious, at 5:43
- SIVAKOV Pavel, INEOS Grenadiers, at 23:03
- ARENSMAN Thymen, Team DSM, at 23:51
- COVILI Luca, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, 1:11:44
- Bahrain - Victorious, 259:48:12
- BORA - hansgrohe, at 4:07
- INEOS Grenadiers, at 1:22:29