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VERONA, Italy (VN) – In the short tunnel at the top of the Passo Fedaia, Lucas Hamilton stood astride his bike, elbows resting on his bars, head hanging as the BikeExchange-Jayco soigneurs wrapped a towel around his neck, lifted his arms to pull a jacket over his heaving upper body, recovering from one of the biggest efforts the Australian had made during three-and-a-half weeks at the Giro d’Italia.
It always seems a little cruel to ask for a comment at a moment like this when a race has turned themselves inside out physically and mentally, but VeloNews had to ask his reaction to his compatriot Jai Hindley taking the race leader’s maglia rosa just a handful of minutes earlier. Hamilton’s face instantly lit up.
“I haven’t seen the results or anything but I’m super happy for Jai. He’s got the time trial tomorrow, but he’s looking in a good spot to be the first Australian to win the Giro d’Italia and, to be honest, I’m proud to be Aussie right now,” Hamilton said. “And I’m proud of him. I’ve raced with him since I was 14 years old and no one deserves it more.”
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Twenty-four hours later, after Hindley had confirmed his overall victory in the corsa rosa, another Australian Hamilton, this time Team DSM’s Chris, was just as elated as his namesake had been the day before.
“It was a big disappointment for our team losing Romain Bardet and the day after that happened, I thought, ‘I’ve got to hope Jai can do this.’ To see what he did yesterday on the Fedaia and the lead he has, I’m just so happy for him,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know anyone in the bunch who doesn’t want him to win, he’s just a lovely guy.”
“I’m really proud to be Australian and happy to take this one home.”
Jai Hindley has pedalled with controlled power into cycling history as Australia’s historic first winner of the Giro d’Italia.
— AAP Sport (@AAPSport) May 30, 2022
He recalled the moment the day before on the Fedaia when he heard that his close friend was in the pink jersey.
“It was the first thing I heard when I crossed the line because one of our soigneurs used to be on that team, so everyone is really rooting for him. The first thing I head when I crossed the line was, ‘Jai’s put a minute 25 into Carapaz,’ and I had the tingles, just, ‘Holy shit! He’s gonna do it.’ I know how strong he is and how hard he works. When he’s in a race like this and he’s on, he can do anything,” said the beaming Hamilton.
He described as a “huge” moment for Australian cycling.
Hamilton is the first Australian to win the Giro, and only the second to win a grand tour after Cadel Evans made history as the first in 2011 at the Tour de France.
“We’ve never had a Giro winner, although I think people in Australia probably can’t comprehend just how big this is because cycling’s not massive there. It’s pretty big, but everyone knows the Tour de France and stuff like that. But for Jai to do this, it’s just huge. I don’t know the last sporting achievement like this,” said the DSM rider.
He continued by saying that the victory wouldn’t change Hindley at all.
“He’s very humble. I’ve known Jai for a really long time. We came through this team together, and he’s one of my best mates,” he said. “We spend heaps of time together, we do a lot of training and stuff like that. I can tell you that the Jai that I first got to know in 2018, when we were both young neo pros and pretty fresh on the scene, is still the exact same Jai that there’s today.”