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In an absolutely fantastic final mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia, the two best climbers in the race rode into the finish together, throwing gangly limbs in the final sprint, which was won by Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) with Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) in second. Rohan Dennis rolled into the finish third on the stage, but also the most valuable teammate for Geoghegan Hart, having set the pace for the final two laps of the course.
Wilco Kelderman slipped out of the race lead, losing 1’35” on the stage and conceding the pink jersey to his teammate Hindley. Geoghegan Hart and Hindley are separated by milliseconds after Hindley took some intermediate sprint seconds. For the second time in 2020, the final time trial is going to be, actually, very exciting.
How it happened
After the goings-on of stage 18, with a dramatic change in the general classification, the race was between Wilco Kelderman, Jai Hindley, and Tao Geoghegan Hart. The three sat shoulder to shoulder headed into the last three days of the race, so the final stages were not going to disappoint, regardless of the changes to stage 20 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The stage would have 1,500 meters less of elevation gain without the Colle dell Agnello and the Col d’Izoard and instead, the riders took on a challenging circuit that included the Sestriere three times.
In classic late-stage race fashion, a large break went away early with the hopes of hitting the Sestriere with a head start on the GC contenders. The 21 rider breakaway watched their seven-minute advantage ebb away as they ascended the Sestriere for the first time, and a few breakaway riders took turns attempting solo moves. On the climb, the peloton lost rider after rider under the pressure of the Ineos Grenadiers.
Leaders and chase reshuffled until within 30 km to the finish when Einer Rubio of Movistar found himself alone out front, chased by two Deceuninck-Quick Step riders, Pieter Serry and Mikkel Honoré.
As the break continued to fight a losing battle the general classification behind descended into chaos. Rohan Dennis once again put in a bid for MVP as he led Tao Geoghegan Hart away from the rest of the GC contenders, with only Jai Hindley able to hold the pace of the former World Champion.
On the penultimate lap of the Sestriere Kelderman, decked all in pink, watched his teammate Hindley and the two Ineos Grenadiers ride away, unable to keep the pace. As the climb ticked by so did Kelderman’s pink jersey. The Dutchman was joined by Pello Bilbao (TBM), former race leader João Almeida (DQT), Vincenzo Nibali (TFS), Fausto Masnada (DQT), James Knox (DQT), Ben O’Connor (NTT), Attila Valter (CCC), Julien Bernard (TFS), Nicola Conci (TFS), and Simon Guglielmi (GFC).
At some point in the final 10 km, Serry and Honoré caught Rubio, but all eyes were on the general classification at this point. Up the Sestriere for the final time, Hindley continued to attack, trying to distance Geoghegan Hart and continually dropping Dennis. Geoghegan Hart matched every attack effortlessly.
The two battling for the overall were also the last two standing into the finish of stage 20. In the final 100 meters, Geoghegan Hart flipped the script on stage 18, beating Hindley to take the stage win and the accompanying bonus seconds. Dennis was not far behind the two and rolled in for third on the stage.
Kelderman finished with Rubio and Bilbao 1’35” down from Geoghegan Hart, placing him third in the general classification 1’32” down on Hindley. Pello Bilbao held on to fourth overall, and Almeida, who rode away from the pink jersey group on the final climb, finished fourth on the day and remained fifth in the general classification.
Into the final time trial Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley are separated by milliseconds. Hindley will wear the pink skinsuit on the final day.
1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), 4:52:45
2. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb), st
3. Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers), +0:25
4. João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick Step), +1:01
5. Andrea Vendrame (AG2R La Mondiale), +1:34
6. Einer Augusto Rubio (Movistar Team), +1:35
7. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain – McLaren), st
8. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), st
9. Attila Valter (CCC), +1:48
10. James Knox (Deceuninck – Quick Step), +2:00
1. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb), 85:22:07
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), ST!
3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), +1:23
4. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain – McLaren), +2:51
5. João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick Step), +3:14
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team), +6:32
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Trek – Segafredo), +7:46
8. Patrick Konrad (BORA – hansgrohe), +8:05
9. Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick Step), +9:24
10. Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain – McLaren), +10:08