The WA cyclist became the first Australian to win the Giro d’Italia in the race’s 105-year history at the weekend.
Jai Hindley’s historic win at the Giro d’talia overnight is expected to generate a wave of investment into Perth’s cycling industry and has prompted calls for more funding into developing junior riders.
The West Australian cyclist, 26, became the first Australian to win Grand Tour the Giro d’Italia in its 105-year history, on Sunday.
Hindley’s win made him the second Australian in history to win a Grand Tour, after Cadel Evans won the highly-coveted Tour de France in 2011.
The recent win sparked a wave of elation throughout Perth’s cycling community and is expected to pique the interest of West Australians looking to get into the sport.
AusCycling WA manager clubs, community and sport Matthew Poyner, who has known Hindley for close to 20 years, said the win would shine a spotlight on the calibre of WA cyclists.
“It is the greatest achievement of any West Australian cyclist in the history of cycling,” he said.
“We have dual Olympic champions like Ryan Bailey, multiple world champions Peter Dawson and Darryn Hill, we have the likes of Shane Perkins and dual Olympic champion Graeme Brown.
“Jai Hindley has surpassed all of those results and he goes into number one, and when we think of [West Australian] Cameron Meyer who was 10-time world champion, it puts into perspective what Jai has just achieved.”
As Evans took out the Tour de France in 2011, the number of Australians investing in cycling grew.
And with a $650 million investment into cycling by West Australians in 2020, industry experts are tipping this to rise on the back of Hindley’s win.
However, global supply chain issues could complicate this as the in-demand products are scarce.
Wayne Evans owns Cyclemania in North Perth and played a key part of propelling WA cyclists to the world stage, recalled the spike in interest in the sport after Evans won the French grand tour.
“In 2011, when Cadel won the tour it was fair to say that cycling became more acknowledged as a sport, not just AFL and cricket and rugby, but the significance of his win brought the general public to know cycling [more],” he said.
“Jai has now an even bigger impact for the WA audience [and] it’s going to impact the country.
“I had a call from a customer saying my son wanted to get a track bike, so immediately the talk of ‘take me to see a bike race or dad let’s start bike riding I want to be like Jai’.
“When Jai two years ago lost the Giro he said 'for this to happen to me, a boy from Perth, if it can happen to anyone, it can happen to you, any kid out there.”
Mr Evans added that the impact of COVID was positive on bike sales, but retailers were still dealing with supply chain disruptions.
“The impact of COVID was really good for our industry … but now it’s been bad because we’re in a situation where we can’t get stock,” he said.
“Road bikes are sparce across every brand; the reality is most shops are going to say to you 70-90 per cent of what they would ordinarily have is not available.
“We’ve got this level of interest but not the ability to meet supply.”
Jai Hindley (centre) at a WA cycling race in 2005. Photo: Jodie Craig.
Jai Hindley’s parents were instrumental in funding the rider’s success, with his father Gordon Hindley backing a development squad.
Mr Poyner said investment like this was crucial to young cyclists’ progression, calling on the business community to back these pathways.
“We have Gina Rinehart, who’s a patron of Australian swimming,” he said.
“We have a number of people in WA who are in a position to be able to become patrons of sport and develop financial assistance pathways for junior cyclists … it would be great if the Gina Rineharts and Twiggy Forrests of this world can see what they can develop in WA.”
Westcycle chief operating officer Glenn Te Raki said the sport was “at a cross roads” at the moment in terms of junior development.
“The timing of Jai’s win couldn’t be better for understanding how significant it is for grassroots pathways,” he said.
The cycling community is also calling for a welcome parade for Jai Hindley when he returns to Perth, akin to the parade for Cadel Evans when he returned to Melbourne after his Tour de France win.
Mr Te Raki said he would be happy to work alongside government to support an welcoming parade for Hinldey.
Mr Evans said the City of Perth “should be putting on a ticker-tape parade” for Hindley on the streets of Perth as he returns.
WestCycle is in discussions with the young cyclist as to when he plans to return to Perth.
Hindley’s former coach Andrew Jackson told Business News the City of Perth “should treat it like when Cadel won the tour [and] Melbourne put on a gala festival for him”.
Mr Jackson said Hindley’s win was likely to “add a few euros to his contract” with German outfit Bora-Hansgrohe and would add to the prestige of the Specialized bicycle brand the team rides.
Noel Baker, who owns Elite Racing Cycles in North Perth, said he hoped it would trigger further investment in the sport.
"It’s got to have a positive spin-off and the supply chain is freeing up for us so hopefully it translates to more people on bikes," he said.
Hindley is expected to return to WA in September.