Australian Jai Hindley said Sunweb’s strategy was “perfect” as he won Thursday’s grueling Giro d’Italia stage over the Stelvio pass in the northern Italian Alps.
“Winning here is such an incredible feeling,” said 24-year-old Hindley.
“It’s a big step forward in my career and a double success for the team with Wilco Kelderman now wearing the Maglia Rosa. The tactics were perfect for our team today.”
The effort helped teammate Wilco Kelderman take the leader’s pink jersey. Dutchman Kelderman struggled on the final two climbs but his fifth-place finish was enough to overtake Joao Almeida three days before the race finishes in Milan.
Kelderman took the lead from Portugal’s Almeida of Deceuninck Quick-Step who had been in pink for more than two weeks since stage three in Sicily. Three riders are battling at the top of the overall standings with Hindley 12 seconds behind his teammate and Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart third 15 seconds off the pace, after finishing second on the day.
“The hardest stage of my life,” said 29-year-old Kelderman.
“We had a goal and we achieved it. Wearing the Maglia Rosa is a dream after so many difficult years, I’m really happy to be leading the overall standings.”
Almeida drops to fifth place at 2:16, after finishing the stage in 48th position after the 207km run from Pinzolo to the Cancano Lakes in the Stelvio National Park.
Hindley and Geoghegan Hart outpaced Kelderman with 8km to go towards the summit of the snow-capped Stelvio at an altitude of 9000 feet. Kelderman was overtaken by Spaniard Pello Bilbao and Dane Jakob Fuglsang on the final 8.7km climb with a gradient of 6.8 percent to the Cancano Lakes. Hindley crossed just ahead of Ineos’ Geoghegan Hart with Spaniard Pello Bilbao of Bahrain-McLaren third at 46 seconds.
It was a first WorldTour success for Hindley who had already impressed last Sunday at Piancavallo in the Dolomites.
Friday’s 19th stage returns to the plains with a 253km run from Morbegno to Asti in Piedmont.
|1||HINDLEY Jai||Team Sunweb||6:03:03|
|2||GEOGHEGAN HART Tao||INEOS Grenadiers||,,|
|3||BILBAO Pello||Bahrain – McLaren||0:46|
|4||FUGLSANG Jakob||Astana Pro Team||1:25|
|5||KELDERMAN Wilco||Team Sunweb||2:18|
|6||KONRAD Patrick||BORA – hansgrohe||4:04|
|7||ALMEIDA João||Deceuninck – Quick Step||4:51|
|8||NIBALI Vincenzo||Trek – Segafredo||,,|
|9||PERNSTEINER Hermann||Bahrain – McLaren||,,|
|10||MASNADA Fausto||Deceuninck – Quick Step||4:55|
|1||KELDERMAN Wilco||Team Sunweb||77:46:56|
|2||HINDLEY Jai||Team Sunweb||0:12|
|3||GEOGHEGAN HART Tao||INEOS Grenadiers||0:15|
|4||BILBAO Pello||Bahrain – McLaren||1:19|
|5||ALMEIDA João||Deceuninck – Quick Step||2:16|
|6||FUGLSANG Jakob||Astana Pro Team||3:59|
|7||KONRAD Patrick||BORA – hansgrohe||5:40|
|8||NIBALI Vincenzo||Trek – Segafredo||5:47|
|9||MASNADA Fausto||Deceuninck – Quick Step||6:46|
|10||MAJKA Rafal||BORA – hansgrohe||7:28|
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini