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‘Sacrifice’ needed for Aussie’s Tour success

Australia’s Jai Hindley may be forced to play second fiddle to Primoz Roglic during this year’s Tour de France. Picture: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP

Australia’s only Tour de France winner Cadel Evans says Jai Hindley can still repeat his exploits in the world’s biggest bike race but must bide his time as he focuses on supporting new teammate Primoz Roglic.

Hindley, the 2022 Giro d’Italia winner who held the yellow jersey after stage five of the Tour last year, was unexpectedly thrust into a support role for this year’s race when his team Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe signed Roglic.

The 34-year-old Slovenian will enter the Tour in a rich vein of form after he took out the Criterium du Dauphine warm-up race earlier this month.

Evans said he was “all too familiar” with Hindley’s situation after the 28-year-old West Australian put his team on the map with his exploits only to now take a back seat.

Australia’S Jai Hindley (left) and Slovenia's Primoz Roglic during the presentation of the new Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe cycling team. Picture: Kerstin Joensson / AFP
Australia’S Jai Hindley (left) and Slovenia's Primoz Roglic during the presentation of the new Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe cycling team. Picture: Kerstin Joensson / AFP

“Jai positioned himself well after winning the Giro – he had a great team around him and it was a team not only he grew with but helped to build,” Evans said from Italy ahead of the first stage in Florence on Saturday night Australian time.

“His results basically established the Bora-Hansgrohe team. He looks to go to the tour and take the yellow jersey, and then they sign another rider who was one of his competitors.

“It’s a difficult situation for him – I know both Jai and Primoz quite well and they’re both really likeable guys who I admire.

“I want to see Jai succeed, but I don’t want to see Primoz fail in any way. At this point I give Primoz a great chance in the team this year, but at the same time Jai as a professional will need to sacrifice himself for Primoz.”

Evans said Roglic and Hindley were shaping as the strongest duo outside the UAE “super team” stacked with race favourite Tadej Pogacar and support riders Adam Yates and Joao Almeida.

He said two-time defending champion Jonas Vingegaard would have a fight on his hands to secure a three-peat after losing key American teammate Sepp Kuss to Covid on the eve of the Tour.

Evans will again return to Australia this summer for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong.

Registrations opened on Friday for the TAC People’s Ride, where Evans will join about 3000 riders for 59km and 124km courses.

“My hope is that I’m doing it every year until I’m 80 years old, I think that’s old enough to be out there doing the ride, personally,” Evans said with a laugh.

“We’ve been going for 10 years, and for me of course it’s a big deal because 10 years ago was my last race as a professional.

“For it to be where we are today is something I’m very proud of … I never would have expected that we could’ve got this far, and hopefully next summer we’ll be looking forward to another 10 years.”