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Hindley survives Giro d’Italia puncture

A puncture on stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia could not prevent Jai Hindley hanging on to second place with three days to go.

The Australian suffered a punctured tyre within the final three kilometres, meaning he was given the same finishing time as the other leaders he was riding with when he had to stop for mechanical help.

Belgium’s Dries De Bondt won as a four-man breakaway stole away the final opportunity for the sprinters.

Richard Carapaz, the 2019 champion and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist, maintained a three-second lead in the overall standings from Hindley, who was runner-up in 2020.

The predominantly flat 156km run from Borgo Valsugana to Treviso should have been one for the quick men, and the last bunch sprint of this Giro.

But the sprint squads got their sums wrong as the break stayed clear, with De Bondt beating Edoardo Affini, Magnus Cort and Davide Gabburo to the line.

Alberto Dainese brought home the sprinters 14 seconds later, with Britain’s Mark Cavendish rolling home in eighth place.

Joao Almeida, who had dropped from third to fourth on Wednesday’s stage to Lavarone, did not start on Thursday having tested positive for Covid-19. The rest of the UAE Team Emirates squad and staff returned negative tests.

The peloton appeared to have the breakaway under control for the bulk of the stage, but after the front four upped the pace on the short but sharp climb of the Muro di Ca del Poggio around 50km from the finish, they built a gap the peloton failed to close.

Asked how they held off the peloton, De Bondt said: “The collaboration from the four of us was magnificent. Nobody skipped a turn. It was full, full, full.

“Everyone thought it would be a sprint, that it was written in the stars, but we made a plan, the four of us, and we stuck to it.”

Mikel Landa stayed third overall, 1:05 behind Carapaz.

The remaining three stages will determine the winner: gruelling mountain legs on Friday and Saturday followed by a hilly individual time trial that ends the race in Verona on Sunday.

“I checked Landa and Hindley all the time as I knew there could be some gaps,” Carapaz said. “I want to keep the maglia rosa till the end, I trust in my legs.”

With AP

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