Australian cyclist Jai Hindley will have a shot at creating history when he lines up in the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España.
- Jai Hindley won his first Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year
- No Australian has ever won the Vuelta a España, with Cadel Evans and Jack Haig’s third places the best by any Australian
- This year’s Vuelta starts with a team time trial in Utrecht in the Netherlands
Only 10 riders have ever won two Grand Tours in a single season, with the Giro-Vuelta double the equal-most elusive feat.
Just three riders have ever claimed the Giro-Vuelta double in a single season: Eddie Merckx (1973), Giovanni Battaglin (1981) and Alberto Contador (2008).
But that’s what 26-year-old Hindley will be aiming for after he was named as part of a strong Bora-Hansgrohe team that will line up for the race-opening team time trial in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
Hindley became the first Australian to win the Giro last May in what was just his fifth Grand Tour start.
He was just the second Australian to ever win a Grand Tour after Cadel Evans’s 2011 Tour de France win — and will be aiming to become the first Australian to ever win the Vuelta.
The West Australian’s only previous appearance in the Vuelta was in 2018, when he finished in 32nd place overall behind overall winner Simon Yates, who will this year lead Australian team Team BikeExchange-Jayco.
Hindley had two months off after his Giro victory but recently finished seventh overall at the recent five-stage Vuelta Ciclista a Burgos.
“The main goal is to be good for La Vuelta, and we still have a bit of time before that, so it’s all good,” Hindley told the Bora-Hansgrohe team after the race.
“After such a long time off from racing and then coming off the back of a hard altitude camp, it’s nice to be back at the pointy end of a race.
“I think Wilco [Kelderman] and Emu [Emanuel Buchmann] are similar and, hopefully, we will hit peak form at the right time.”
Three-time reigning champion Primož Roglič is expected to line up for Jumbo Visma, despite crashing out of the Tour de France with a shoulder injury.
If Roglič does start, he will be looking to become the first man to win four-consecutive Vuelta titles.
Australian Jack Haig — who also crashed out of this year’s Tour de France and is expected to be named to start for Bahrain Victorious — finished a surprise third in last year’s Vuelta, seven minutes and 40 seconds behind Roglič.
That equaled Evans’ third-placed finish in 2009 as the joint best finish by an Australian in the Spanish Grand Tour.
AG2R rider Ben O’Connor — another rider whose Tour prematurely ended after injury having finished fourth in 2021 — may also start.
Australian riders have stood on the podium in four of the last eight Grand Tour races.
The Vuelta gets underway with a 23.3km team time trial on Friday, September 19, opening three days of racing in the Netherlands before the race heads south to Spain.
That race will cover 3,280.5km in 21 stages, seven of which are classed as mountain stages.