This time last March, the 2020 Giro d’Italia runner-up was facing his first of two DNFs in a mountainous stage race, quitting the Volta a Catalunya on stage four and then abandoning the Tour of the Alps a few weeks later. As for the Giro, where he had to quit on the day of the Zoncolan with a saddle sore, it’s probably just best quietly forgotten.
It’s a very different story 12 months on. Quite apart from being an instrumental part of teammate Higuita’s great win in the Volta a Catalunya, Hindley himself is on the up. Plus he still feels there’s more to come.
Eighth in the crucial mountain stage at Boi Taull and 13th overall, the Australian has also quietly claimed a solid fifth overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, as well as seventh on a summit finish in the UAE Tour.
All a far cry from 2021 and also a sign that Hindley, like Higuita, has quickly found his feet at his new team for 2022, Bora-Hansgrohe.
“Super-rough,” is how Hindley frankly described his final season at Team DSM to Cyclingnews after the Pyrenean stages of the Volta a Catalunya. “I was sick at Paris-Nice and that continued into Catalunya. And here it’s maybe not quite as good as what I hoped for, but compared with last year I’m very happy with how things are going.”
But it’s not just dodging the illnesses, Hindley said, that’s given him a better foundation for 2022. “Last year, I had a slower build-up and this time round I’ve been training pretty hard pretty early.
“With how cycling is going, you have to be at every race in really good form if you want to compete, and last year I was always on the back foot.
“Ask me how this season was when it’s over,” he said with a laugh. “But so far it’s nice to be at the pointy end of the action in the races again.”
Hindley is keen to underline that he is yet to hit his best form.
“There’s still quite a bit of room for improvement," he said. "After Catalunya, I’ll be doing some altitude training, maybe two or two-and-a-half weeks at Sierra Nevada in Spain.
“I’ve not been to altitude yet this year, so hopefully combined with some hard racing blocks that’ll help make a difference.”
The Giro is familiar terrain for the Australian but prior to the start in Hungary in early May, rather than going to the Tour of the Alps, Hindley will be testing the water in the Ardennes.
“I’ll be going to Flèche and Liège, I’ve never done them before so I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “And afterwards it’s not too long to the start of the Giro.
“The key thing for me is not to overdo it in training, and to find a good balance between the racing and the recovery.”
How high in the Giro d’Italia GC battle Hindley will reach this May remains to be seen but compared to 2021 at least, all the indications so far are much better.
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