With nine days to go until the elite men’s road race at the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, the Australian Cycling Team has announced that Jai Hindley has tested positive for COVID.
Australia’s first Giro d’Italia champion, Jai Hindley, is expected to return to Australia for the first time in three years next week. Today, however, it was revealed that the 26-year-old returned a positive test for COVID on 12 September.
“Jai tested positive more than a week before the competition,” explained the Australian Cycling Team this afternoon, “but we will make a final decision on his participation closer to the event.”
Hindley is currently “largely asymptomatic” but the team is carefully monitoring his condition as he is due to leave Europe on Monday all going well, and there is still hope that he will be able to race the final event of #Wollongong2022 on Sunday 25 September, the elite men’s road race.
The climber is one of eight Australian riders selected for the elite road race and although he would be sorely missed if unable to race, the media release from AusCycling today suggests that there are replacement options if Hindley is unable to travel.
“As with all events, we have a plan B and plan C, something all sporting teams need to have these days,” explained the Australian Cycling Team’s chief medical officer, Dr Kevyn Hernandez.
The Australian rider selection for the elite men’s road race, as it currently stands, is:
- Simon Clarke (VIC)
- Luke Durbridge (WA)
- Heinrich Haussler (NSW)
- Jai Hindley (WA)
- Michael Matthews (ACT)
- Ben O’Connor (WA)
- Lucas Plapp (VIC)
- Nicholas Schultz (QLD)
Hindley won the Giro in May and recently finished his second Grand Tour for the season, the Vuelta a España, in 10th place.
Throughout the year, Hindley competes with the German-registered Bora-Hansgrohe team and he is still likely to line up in the green and gold on the final Sunday of September. If he’s able to race, he will be a huge asset for the host nation, as he is one of the world’s best climbers.
The 266.9km course for the world championships includes almost 4,000 metres of climbing, and Hindley is the kind of rider who would relish the steeper gradients even if he prefers long mountain climbs rather than the short steep hills that are a feature of the road race in Wollongong.
We wait to see if COVID claims a casualty from the Australian Cycling Team even before the championships begin and wish Jai a speedy recovery in the hope that we’ll soon see him racing on Australian soil again.
– By Rob Arnold
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