Bora-Hansgrohe Sports Director Rolf Aldag has commended Jai Hindley for not sitting up and calling his fight for the Tour de France podium done after being injured in a crash that neutralized the early part of stage 14.
Hindley started the day third on general classification with a handy one-minute and 57-second buffer on Rodríguez, but now trails the Spaniard by a single second ahead of another tough day in the mountains on Sunday.
“Today I think we could have made a big difference, also to the direct competitors. I do feel like he had the shape to stay with Rodríguez, but a crash is a crash. You can’t turn back the clock,” Aldag said post-race.
“He was one of the many victims of the crash but considering that I do think he did fight all through the day massively, and big chapeau for his spirit and for not sitting up and saying that’s it.
“He did get a big hit. If you crash on a slightly downhill with high speed, it’s never good. I think for that he did fight through it really, really bravely, and now we have to see how we get through the days.”
Hindley showered and changed before speaking to media after the stage, unable to recall how the crash, in which riders hit the tarmac at a reported 50km/h, occurred.
“I’ve got no idea. We were just laying down before I knew it,” he said. “I had quite a bit of pain in my backside … I think it’s more like internal muscle or something. It’s quite sore at the moment. Try and sort it out in the next few days.”
Hindley despite the fall didn’t show any sign of weakness on the road, staying with the yellow jersey group of Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), their respective lieutenants and a handful of others, long after his own teammates were dropped.
Emanuel Buchmann lost contact with the yellow jersey group on the Col de la Ramaz, some 55.8km from the finish, and Hindley navigated the decisive Col de Joux Plane alone, with a near full Jumbo-Visma compliment initially controlling the pace.
“For sure we were hoping for more. Emu [Buchmann] tried to come back but then he stuck with the [Tom] Pidcock group,” said Aldag. “A lot of guys were isolated. Rodríguez was alone. So, in that sense, other than [the guys] Pogačar and Vingegaard had, nobody else [was] there anymore.
“And although not perfect, for sure [we] would have loved to have Emu there, and, you know, guide Jai into the climb, I think the impact of the crash did hurt him even more than the lack of teammates.”
Hindley lost contact with the leaders some 17.3km from the finish, as Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) took over the pacemaking. Vingegaard and Pogačar shortly after then started dueling.
Hindley couldn’t quantify how much the crash may have taken out of him in the last climb, where Rodriguez, after the summit, took of advantage of Pogačar and Vingegaard looking at each other to catch and then pass them on the descent to the finish.
“It’s hard to say. It was quite painful, like, every time I was out of the saddle. It was not the best, but it is what it is hey,” Hindley said. “We were all just passengers today I think.”
The climber, who is competing in his first Tour, didn’t talk about the general classification, outside of saying he anticipated Jumbo-Visma to control as it did and try and set-up defending champion Vingegaard, who extended his lead on Pogačar from nine to 10 seconds.
The crash wasn’t helpful, but Aldag maintained an optimistic outlook.
“Now I think the physio, the doctor, everybody has to do a 120 percent job and then we’re going to see what the outcome will be,” he said. “He’s still in the game. It’s not really that it’s all lost and now we have to work on him a good as we can.”
💥Huge crash at the back of the peloton. The race is neutralized💥Grosse chute à l’arrière du peloton. La course est neutralisée#TDF2023 pic.twitter.com/nVWVUga0N9July 15, 2023