Giro d'Italia 2022: Jai Hindley in pink after Richard Carapaz cracks on Marmolada, Alessandro Covi wins Stage 20
Jai Hindley expertly rode into the pink jersey on the final big climb of the Giro d’Italia after his stinging attack on the Passo Fedaia cracked race leader Richard Carapaz in devastating fashion. The Australian will take a lead of 1:25 into Sunday’s decisive time trial in Verona after taking a stunning sixth place on Stage 20, won by the Italian Alessandro Covi from the breakaway.
Hindley’s decisive acceleration came moments after he joined forces with teammate Lennard Kamna after the German rider dropped back from the day’s break to give his leader a timely leg-up while Carapaz was on the ropes. Kamna then stuck to the back wheel of the 2019 champion as Hindley danced up the final hairpins of the Passo Fedaia on his way to the best sixth place you will see all season.
Victory on the so-called Queen of the Dolomites went to Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) who proved the strongest of the day’s 15-man breakaway that formed before the preceding climbs of the Passo San Pellegrino and Passo Pordio, the highest point in the race. After cresting the Pordoi to take the prestigious Cima Coppi prize, Covi held off a late chase from the Slovenian Domen Novak, whose Bahrain Victorious leader Mikel Landa was unable to produce the same devastating dig as Hindley when push came to shove in the 105th edition of La Corsa Rosa.
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With Carapaz crumbling under the pressure of falling behind, Landa was able to catch and pass the man in pink on his way to taking ninth place on the stage and consolidating his third spot on the podium, 1:51 down on the champion elect.
Of course, it won’t be the first time Hindley has started the Giro’s final time trial in pink: two years ago, he famously conceded the maglia rosa on the last day after losing the race of truth to another Ineos rider, Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart, when the two started level on time after 20 stages.
With only three seconds separating Carapaz and Hindley going into the penultimate stage, the latter’s clinical ride on the Marmolada will give him a near-unassailable buffer – even in the event of the rainy forecast.
Hindley’s gap of 1:25 ahead of the 17.4km ITT should mean that even a bad day in the office – or a Denis Menchov-style crash in pink – will not stop the 26-year-old from becoming the first Australian to win the Giro d’Italia following what he described as an “epic” day in the Dolomites.
'I'll die for the jersey tomorrow!' - Hindley ready to do everything to seal Giro victory
“I knew this was going to be the crucial stage of the race,” Hindley said before stopping his post-race interview to celebrate with a Bora-Hansgrohe teammate.
“It was a brutal finish,” he continued as a pink jersey was thrown onto his lap. “If you had the legs you could make the difference. We stayed patient and we saved our matches until today. It was perfect. We had Lenny [Kamna] in the breakaway and he couldn’t have timed it better to drop back and give me a boost up the road. When I heard that Carapaz was dropping the wheel, I went all out. It was an epic stage.”
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Reminded about his final-day nightmare in 2020 and asked whether he felt his advantage two years on was enough, Hindley said: “I don’t know. We’ll see how that goes. It’s always hard to say how a time trial will go on the last day of a three-week race but I’ll die for the pink jersey tomorrow.”
After a series of heavy downpours that drenched the remaining 151 riders as they left Belluno and started the 168km Stage 20, a break of 15 riders eventually formed ahead of the first of three monster climbs that would decide the destiny of the maglia rosa.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious), Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giacattoli), Gijs Leemreize and Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma), Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto Soudal), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Davide Ballerini and Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Thymen Arensman (Team DSM), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Alessandro Covi and Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), and Andrea Vendrame (Ag2R-Citroen) combined well to open up a maximum gap of over six minutes ahead of the Passo San Pellegrino.
The Bahrain Victorious team of Landa and fifth-place Pello Bilbao set the tempo on the front of the peloton, paving the way for potential attacks from their Spanish duo while also giving their rival Ineos and Bora teams a free ride to all the way to the foot of the highest climb of the race.
Once the breakaway exploded on the Passo Pordoi, Covi rode clear to open up a two-minute gap over chasers Novak, Kamna, Leemreize, Oomen, Pedrero, Arensman, Ciccone and Formolo, with Italy’s Ballerini roaring back on the descent after ditching his Quick-Step teammate Vansevenant.
Alessandro Covi of Italy and UAE Team Emirates, Edoardo Zardini of Italy and Team Drone Hopper - Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec, Lennard Kämna of Germany and Team Bora - Hansgrohe, Mauri Vansevenant of Belgium and Team Quick-Step - Alpha Vinyl and a genera
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With fatigue clearly playing a huge role in the chasing bunch – plus Novak and Kamna perhaps riding as satellites for their respective leaders Landa and Hindley behind – Covi was able to extend his lead on the long descent to the foot of the Passo Fedaia.
Under pressure from Ciccone, the chase group broke down on the final climb as Kamna dropped back as a relay for Hindley while Dutchman Arensman and Slovenian Novak joined the Italian Stage 15 winner in pursuit of the lone leader.
Bahrain Victorious had set the tempo in the main pack going onto the climb but Landa soon found himself isolated once Ineos Grenadiers took over the reins and Bilbao was distanced along with lieutenants Santiago Buitrago and Wout Poels. Once the news filtered through too Novak up the road, the Slovenian kicked clear in pursuit of Covi and quickly halved the leader’s advantage as the embarked on the steepest section of the Marmolada with 5km remaining.
Behind, Ineos seemed to have things under control with Ben Tulett and then Pavel Sivakov whittling down the group of favourites after long pulls. But as soon as the Frenchman peeled off with around 3.5km remaining, Hindley – spotting teammate Kamna up the road – put in his initial attack.
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Landa, Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) and Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) were all quickly dropped as the top two riders of this Giro joined forces with Kamna, whose brilliant pull paved the way for teammate Hindley to work his magic.
“It was absolutely amazing – everything worked out perfectly, it couldn’t be better,” Kamna said after riding to ninth place. “I wanted to join the break and then I was waiting until about three-and-a-half to go then I did one really hard pull – like all out, what I had – and then Carapaz was dropped and Jai could take a lot of time.
“I was a bit surprised but on the other hand I was super-happy about it. For us it was the dream scenario. It’s perfect – it couldn’t be better.”
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Albeit overshadowed by events happening in his wake, Covi held on to take his third win of the season and his first ever Grand Tour win by 32 seconds over Novak, who just held off a returning Ciccone for second. Spain’s Pedrero and Dutchman Arensman completed the top five before the triumphant Hindley powered over the line, 2:30 down on the stage winner, but with a guaranteed pink jersey firmly on his shoulders.
Carapaz dug deep but looked to be in a world of pain as he came home 1:28 behind his GC rival, a consolatory arm from Foromolo on his back and his dream of a second Giro d’Italia crown in tatters.
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