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Gaining time bonuses is a key part of the general classification fight so far, with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) going picking some up in the second week while Hindley took some Tuesday to close his gap to the Ecuadorian.
Hindley is just three seconds behind Carapaz as the Giro approaches its denouement at the end of this week, while Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) is just over a minute behind the pair.
“Everyone says that the Giro is going to be decided by minutes, this, that, and the other, but it’s not like that anymore. Every second counts,” Hindley said after recovering from his effort on stage 17.
- Jai Hindley edges closer to Giro d’Italia lead but can’t drop Caparaz or Landa
- Which GC riders lost time on stage 17 as battle for pink becomes three-horse race
There was little that could separate Hindley, Carapaz, and Landa on the final Monterovere climb, an 8.2k effort that averaged 9.4 percent.
The hard pace set by Bahrain-Victorious and a brief attack by Landa with around 10 kilometers remaining almost had Hindley unstuck, but he held onto the group over the top of the climb.
By that time, several of the major GC contenders had been dropped with João Almeida and Vincenzo Nibali both losing time on the climb. The sprint between Carapaz and Hindley to the line also saw Landa give away a crucial six seconds on the line.
“It was a pretty hard climb and I think there was a lot of tired lads out there after yesterday. I was also pretty tired to be honest,” he said. “It was a hard climb, and it was ridden at a really hard tempo. What can you do? I think the level between Carapaz and Landa is also pretty even. It was a pretty tough final.
“It’s pretty hard when it’s not a hilltop finish. I don’t think it was the most decisive stage but I’m happy to take time on some of the other guys.”
While Hindley is holding his own against Carapaz so far, he will need to do more than that if he wants to take home the pink jersey at the end of the week. He has three seconds to make up and he will likely need a small buffer on the Ineos rider going into the final time trial.
Hindley has been in a similar position to this before back in 2020 when he and Tao Geoghegan Hart were equal on time going into the final stage. Hindley wore the maglia rosa due to past performances in the race but he was 39 seconds back by the end of the day.
Neither rider is an exceptional time trialist, but Carapaz appears to have the edge on the Australian in recent times and he will want some advantage going into the last day.
Though the number of opportunities is fast diminishing, Hindley believes that the summit finish on the Marmolada will shake things up ahead of the final ride in Verona.
“I’m definitely running out of stages to make time up, but I think the second to last stage will really decide a lot,” Hindley said.