HomeNewsWorldJai’s Giro Breakthrough Tipped to Lift WA Cycling

Jai’s Giro Breakthrough Tipped to Lift WA Cycling

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Perth, WA

Australia’s breakthrough victory in the last month’s Giro d’Italia, as WA rider Jai Hindley claimed the General Classification, is set to bring a major boost for the bicycle industry in his home State, according to WA bike store owner and elite rider agent Wayne Evans.

Wayne, a prominent figure in WA cycling for many years, said he would be very surprised if bike sales, the sport of road racing and cycling participation in general in his State did not gain a substantial boost from Jai becoming the first Australian to claim overall victory in the Italian grand tour.

He said he believed the victory would have an even greater impact in WA than the Tour de France win by Victorian Cadel Evans in 2011, which increased nationwide awareness of cycling as a sport.

“Jai is such a well-known local fellow, he came through the juniors in WA and he participated in multiple training rides with different groups.”

“When Cadel won the Tour de France it was a bonus for cycling everywhere in Australia. It made many more people aware of cycling as a sport,” Wayne said.

“I saw an increase in road bike sales of 20% or more because people had an Australian to follow.

“I lot of people got buoyed to starting riding, particularly people over 35. I noticed there were a lot of guys who worked in the commercial world, in the big end of town, who enjoyed watching the tour coverage for the scenery and now they saw an Australian guy in the leader’s yellow jersey.

“They thought ‘let’s buy a bike and get over there to ride the mountains” to feel what he feels. Let’s go cheer him on’.”

He predicted last month’s result would bring a more pronounced response in his State, courtesy of Jai’s close association with WA cycling as a junior, his positive demeanour and the State’s parochialism.

“Jai is such a well-known local fellow, he came through the juniors in WA and he participated in multiple training rides with different groups,” Wayne explained.

“The impact will be even greater because he’s a champion off the bike as well. Jai’s a great ambassador and role model.”

“News of his win also reached the mainstream media here quite well, so plenty of kids will have heard about ‘that local guy who just won one of the biggest races on the planet’.

“I think there’s potential for flow-on to increased sales but it might not be evidenced because of the ongoing lack of stock for road bikes.”

He said while Jai’s 2022 Giro campaign only started to attract fleeting coverage by WA mainstream media after he won Stage 9 into Blockhaus, it was a different story by the time the 2022 Giro reached its conclusion.

“I was out playing golf on the Sunday before the final stage and everyone I walked past – including many I didn’t think would have an interest in cycling – was saying ‘bloody hell Wayne, how about that young WA rider in the Giro’.

“The impact will be even greater because he’s a champion off the bike as well. Jai’s a great ambassador and role model.”

“He’s a genuinely nice guy.”

“I was sending him messages during the Giro and saying the best thing about his race was not just that he’d won a stage but just how he was conducting himself.

That’s why Cadel was such a king of the sport in Australia and Europe. It was how he treated people.”

Wayne said Jai’s self-appraisal of his strengths would also enhance his role as an ambassador for cycling.

“Two years ago, when Jai claimed the leader’s jersey for the first time in his life, he got very emotional at the press conference.

“He said he was not an exceptional Under 19 athlete and he was not an athlete everyone tipped to go on be a contender in a grand tour. If this could happen to him, some guy from Perth, it can happen to lots of kids.

“That really resonates with people, that outlook that wonderful things can happen if you’ve got good talent, but also a strong work ethic, application and perseverance.

“Jai will be responsible for instilling a serious set of beliefs in young people who want to see where they can go. I find it hard not to get emotional about the result.”

BORA-hansgrohe crew
Jai celebrates the victory with the BORA-hansgrohe crew. Photo credit: BORA-hansgrohe.

Hometown Celebration

Wayne – the Liberal Party’s candidate for the seat of Balcatta in last year’s WA election, in which Labor claimed Balcatta and a record number of seats – said he was reaching out to his circle of contacts to push for a tickertape parade for Jai when he finally gets to return home.

“I’ve asked if the Perth Lord Mayor, Basil Zempilas, will put on a tickertape parade. I think it’s the least we can do. We do them for our football teams when they win premierships. We do them for our Olympic and Commonwealth Games athletes, and Jai’s victory was an incredible achievement at least on that scale.”

Wayne predicted Jai will go on to be a contender for further grand tour wins, with the potential for success at the Tour de France.

“It’s up to those people whose job it is to promote cycling, and others with a passion, to build on his win and achieve a positive outcome for our industry.”

“Jai’s Giro win was definitely not a flash in the pan result, that’s evidenced by the fact he was second in the race two years ago.

“At 26, he’s at an age when you would expect someone to show more consistency and he’s got many more years in him.

“That would definitely bring favourable outcomes for the bike industry in Australia, including an extended boost to sales.”

Further Action Needed

However, action was needed from decision makers in Australia to fully capitalise on that potential – from governments, cycling advocacy groups and administrators in the sport of cycling.

“Jai winning the Giro is one of the things that will provide a stimulus for discussion and drive things forward. Then

“It’s up to those people whose job it is to promote cycling, and others with a passion, to build on his win and achieve a positive outcome for our industry,” he said.

“The road racing scene in WA is pretty much decimated. We haven’t had a proper long-distance state road championship for a long time and the sport here is disarray.

“Its current state would not be capable of developing a Jai Hindley, a Cameron or Travis Meyer, a Ben O’Connor or any of the WA boys who are now making it at a world level.

“A strong racing scene is an essential component in getting people on bikes. It gives kids something to aspire to. Otherwise, they’ll dream of playing football for the Eagles, the Dockers or the Western Strikers instead – someone they can watch on TV.”

See the next issue of The Latz Report for a broader industry response on how cycling advocacy and the industry can capitalise on successes like Jai’s Giro win.

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