Jai Hindley had the sweetest of family reunions on Sunday, winning the Giro d’Italia in front of his parents after not having seen them since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Australian Hindley became the first man from his country to win the Italian Grand Tour by snatching the pink jersey on the penultimate stage before rolling into the final day time-trial in Verona to seal a memorable win.
The 26-year-old’s family celebrated in the city’s ancient Roman Arena when he lifted the trophy, capping a great victory for cyclist and country.
Before Sunday he hadn’t seen his family since after the Sun Tour way back in February 2020, after which he was in his home town of Perth “for less than 24 hours” before heading back to Europe.
“I didn’t know that was the last time I was going to be back home for a couple of years,” Hindley told reporters.
“Then a few day ago I found out that my parents were going to be coming to the finish and I was really blown away, to not see your parents for two and a half years is unbelievable.
“To have them at the finish in the Arena today was special. Really special.
“I think at the end of the year I’ll go home and savour every minute of it.”
Hindley claimed his win by holding off Richard Carapaz in Sunday’s time-trial, a skill which was once his weak point and which cost him victory at the 2020 Giro.
He said that he had worked on his technique with his team Bora Hansgrohe, and banished the memory of his painful last stage collapse in the time-trial two years ago when he conceded the Giro to Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart on the final day.
“I went to California, to this specialised headquarters, spent quite a bit of time in the wind tunnel trying to work on better positions on the new set up and I think it’s helped a lot,” he said.
Hindley said that he might take a stab at this year’s Vuelta a Espana, and is also eyeing a place in the world championships, which are to be held in New South Wales in September.
“I think it would be a great event and it’s not every day you get to do the worlds in your home country, especially when you’re form Oz. So yeah I’m super keen to be in that team,” he said.
“I think after today I’ll take it easy for a bit, sink some beers, park up and just really savour the moment.”