Jai Hindley is not at the 2022 Giro d'Italia to mess around, waste time or give up a single chance to pick up any available seconds. As he explained in perfect Aussie slang on Monday's rest day: he's not here to put socks on a centipede.
He and his Bora-Hansgrohe team showed their intentions yet again on the queen stage of the Corsa Rosa over the Mortirolo and the Valico di Santa Cristina to Aprica, with the Australian going shoulder to shoulder with race leader Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) at the finish to take a four-second time bonus.
Hindley won the sprint and is now only three seconds from the maglia rosa.
The sprint left Hindley full of adrenaline, and with every second of rest and recovery also important he opted to quickly turn around and head down the finishing straight to his hotel. He spoke briefly later.
"It was a pretty epic day, as expected, with some hard climbs," he said, the fatigue of the day leaving his voice a little less chirpy and less confident compared to Monday.
"I felt quite good and so I tried some attacks on the climb but couldn't shake Carapaz and Landa. It was good to get the bonus seconds at the finish and to gain time on other GC guys. All in all a good day and the sensations are good, it's all good."
Bora-Hansgrohe again rode a strategic race, with former rider and new Directeur Sportif Enrico Gasparotto using his experience to be several moves ahead of their rivals.
Lennard Kämna and Wilco Kelderman again got in the big breakaway of the stage. Kämna went close to victory, only suffering on the Valico di Santa Cristina, while Kelderman dropped back earlier to be there for Hindley, who always had Emanuel Buchmann alongside him.
"Jai once again showed that he was solid," Gasparotto said encouragingly. "He even took four seconds in the sprint at the finish and that's the third time he's beaten Carapaz like that in this Giro. We're getting closer to the pink jersey."
Hindley could try to take the maglia rosa on Wednesday on the mountain stage to Lavarone but Gasparotto may prefer to let the Ecuadorian and Ineos Grenadiers slowly roast under the responsibility of race leadership.
However, that would leave just Saturday's Marmolada mountain finish to gain time on all of Hindley's rivals before Sunday's decisive time trial. We should expect more team tactics on the steep and late Passo del Vetriolo and Menador climbs.
'Hopefully, the weather is not super bad and we can get through the stage," Gasparotto said as heavy rain and a thunderstorm hit Aprica after stage 16.
"We saw that Bahrain are also ready to do something and we should use that opportunity."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.