Centipedes continue to go sockless as Hindley harbours Tour de France dreams

'Never say never,' was Jai Hindley's response to whether a future Tour de France victory is within his reach.

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From the moment he crossed the final finish line of stage 21, sealing the 2022 Giro d’Italia maglia rosa, Jai Hindley’s barely had time to stop, to think about what he’s done.

The interviews, the podiums, the party, and now a holiday. He’s somewhere in Italy with his girlfriend, and his parents were also around for a bit, his mum and dad having flown over from Australia to see their son for the first time in two years.

Mr and Mrs Hindley’s 20-hour flight was organised by Bora-Hansgrohe, the team having full trust their new signing would hold firm in the time trial after taking the pink jersey on the final climb of the race the day before.

“Imagine not seeing your parents for two and a half years, it’s ridiculous. Especially last year with such a rollercoaster of a season. When you’re going through the shit and you can’t physically see your parents, it’s really brutal,” Hindley said, having suffered numerous setbacks in 2021 including the saddle sore to beat all saddle sores.

“It was the icing on the cake [his parents coming over to Italy]. It was quite last minute. They were going to come on a bit of a holiday in the middle of June. When the team asked me if I wanted them to come out for the final, I couldn’t say no. That was an incredible gesture from the team and the sponsors. They’re actually on their way back to Oz now because my mum has to go back to work…but it was one of the best days ever.”

And now he’s on holiday: “I wanted to keep the party going. I had all this planned before the race, but I’m just in Italy with my girlfriend. I’m enjoying the time. It’s a beautiful country. I really love it, and it’s nice to still be here.”

After a month of experiencing the country at an average speed of 39.73 kph, it’s time for some still life. But there’s also some time to collect his thoughts and tell the world what it’s like to be a Giro champion. Of course, you can’t be the man who came out with the phrase “we’re not here to put socks on centipedes” on the second rest day and not follow that up.

But after the entertaining, carefree bravado things started to get a little hairy. The stage 18 puncture in the final couple of kilometres didn’t cost him any time but it certainly didn’t help to settle the nerves as the race reached its crunch point.

“I was feeling pretty nervous when I was going into stage [20] because you either had it or you didn’t. I was super nervous and not feeling super great, because it was stage 20, and you’ve been racing your bike for almost three weeks up to that point,” Hindley explained.

“When it gets to that point of the race it’s almost more mentally than physically challenging. Mentally, I was ready to fight, and it paid off.”

“I looked at the profile pretty closely, quite in-depth. I knew the last five kilometres were going to be brutal. So I really just held back until then, and then made the move.”

Now the question arises of what’s next. The crux of competition means that victory is never really enough. There’s always the next win, then the win after that.

Hindley wants to ride the Tour de France, which he’s not done yet in the five years he’s been a professional. But what about winning it? After a victory at the Giro, there are few other bigger races to add to your palmarès.

“For sure, why not,” Hindley says, providing a real answer befitting his candid nature. “Never say never. That would be the ultimate dream, but I’m definitely not going to say it’s not possible.”

As the centipedes continue to go sockless, Hindley is left to dream of a future holiday in France, a yellow jersey tucked away safely in his suitcase.

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