We had been told again and again: the showdown would come on the Marmolada. And so it did. The long wait of this third week, which was struggling to take off in terms of spectacle, culminated with the last 3 breath-taking kilometres of the Passo Fedaia climb. “I had been saving my energy these last few days to give everything on the Marmolada,” said Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) after the finish. The head-to-head with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) came down to the wire and the Australian got the better of it.
After the Passo San Pellegrino and the Passo Pordoi (Cima Coppi) had offered no particular excitement, it was expected to be yet another 0-0 between the contenders for the general classification, stuck in a balance that did not seem to break, but after Bahrain Victorious had been pulling for most of the stage and then, on the Passo Fedaia, the Ineos Grenadiers with Pavel Sivakov took the lead, neither Mikel Landa nor Richard Carapaz tried anything special. But Jai Hindley did, and immediately knocked the first of the three contenders for the Maglia Rosa, Landa, out of the picture.
When Carapaz responded to Hindley’s first attack, his face did not betray the imminent breakdown that was to come a few hundred metres later. So, the two continued together on the increasingly steep slopes of the Marmolada, but the Australian found Lennard Kämna, recovering from the morning’s breakaway, in his path, scraping the bottom of his energy to give his captain one last hand. And just as the German made a last-ditch effort, Carapaz began to see stars, lightened his gear, and gradually lost ground. In the midst of the roaring crowd at Fedaia, Hindley turned and saw his adversary trudging along, grimacing like never before, so he thanked Kämna and relaunched his action, digging a huge gap over an increasingly heavy Carapaz on the pedals.