Jai Hindley shakes up Tour de France with breakaway win to claim yellow jersey

By Sports Desk July 05, 2023 616

Jai Hindley ripped up the script for the Tour de France as he took the yellow jersey from Adam Yates with a breakaway victory in the Pyrenees while Jonas Vingegaard left chief rival Tadej Pogacar in his wake when he set off in pursuit.

All the talk in the build-up to this Tour has been on the battle between defending champion Vingegaard and two-time winner Pogacar, but Hindley slipped into a strong breakaway on the road out of Pau and so ensured the general classification had been ripped up 163 kilometres later in Laruns.

The Australian Tour debutant, winner of the 2022 Giro d’Italia, made his own case as a contender ending the day with a 47-second lead over Vingegaard, while Pogacar’s inability to follow the Dane up the final climb might be the answer needed regarding his fitness after a long injury lay-off.

Hindley was scarcely able to believe his luck in having been allowed to join the break and then having the legs to capitalise as he went clear on the Col de Marie Blanque to solo into town, winning by 32 seconds from a group including Vingegaard.

“I’m a bit lost for words to be honest,” the 27-year-old said. “I can’t believe it. I was pretty surprised to find myself in that group.

“I just sort of slipped into it. I was sort of having fun, then looked back and there was no group behind so I thought, ‘I guess we’re in for a bike race’.”

Pogacar won an almost identical stage back in 2020 on his way to his first Tour crown, but this unusually early visit to the mountains just five days into a Tour had a very different ending as he dropped to sixth overall, one minute and 40 seconds down.

Bora-Hansgrohe sports director Rolf Aldag called it an “accident” for Hindley to get into the day’s breakaway, but the mistake belonged to the UAE Team Emirates squad of Pogacar and Yates.

With several teams, including Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma, represented up the road, none of their rivals were willing to help them shut the move down, and the break’s advantage quickly ballooned to four minutes as they scaled the Col de Soudet.

Hindley would have been dreaming of taking a significant lead in yellow at that point but inevitably the peloton did begin to close in when the breakaway splintered on the Marie Blanque.

Hindley chose that moment to ride away from Felix Gall and then, as they closed in behind, Vingegaard did the same to Pogacar, putting more than a minute into the Slovenian who is still hampered after breaking his wrist at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April.

“I just felt good,” Vingegaard said. “I just look at myself and if I feel good then I try to attack. You have to ask Tadej (what happened) but I know he never gives up and it will be a fight all the way to Paris…

“We were also thinking if we should put a guy on the front (to chase the break) but we decided not to. Being in the break takes a lot of energy, but of course we have to look at Jai as well. I think I had a super good day.”

Pogacar tried in vain to chase down Vingegaard on the descent, but waited for a group including Adam and Simon Yates so they could work together to limit their losses.

“It was not so difficult a day but Jonas went so fast on the climb and I lost my legs early,” the 24-year-old said.

“It was a bit hectic over the small climbs. Everybody wanted to go in the break and there was a moment where we could not close the gap immediately and the big group went away…

“I think I know my limits now so the motivation is pretty high and I think we can go day-by-day pretty strong.”

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Last modified on Wednesday, 05 July 2023 11:53
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