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The 2020 Giro d’Italia continued to take additional twists and turns on the final day in the Alps on Saturday on stage 20 as Wilco Kelderman lost the pink jersey to his teammate Jai Hindley.
But the big news is that Hindley is essentially tied for the lead as he and British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart, and tomorrow’s 15-kilometer final time trial will decide who walks away with this year’s Giro d’Italia title. It’s going to be a thriller!
Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers)
The good news: Tao Geoghegan Hart rode brilliantly today to take the stage win and be in a virtual tie for the Maglia Rosa with Jai Hindley. With the help of his teammate Rohan Dennis, he simply rode everyone off his wheel save Hindley, and he is now in prime position to actually win this year’s Giro d’Italia. Considering that he beat Hindley by well over a minute in the previous time trial, the British rider must be favored to win this year’s Giro d’Italia. Sure, he finished nearly 45 seconds behind Hindley in the opening time trial in Palermo, but he started this year’s race as a designated support rider. Honestly, who would ever have expected it three weeks ago when he started the race as a support rider for teammates Geraint Thomas and Filippo Ganna that he would be fighting for overall victory on the final stage? One of the very best U23 riders of his generation, Geoghegan Hart has finally confirmed that can be a winner at the highest level. News doesn’t get much better than that!
The bad news: The only bad news for Tao Geoghegan Hart is that he doesn’t actually get to start tomorrow’s time trial with the Maglia Rosa on his shoulders as a fraction of a second still separates him from Hindley. As a result, he will start the final 15-kilometer time trial in front of Hindley, a slight disadvantage.
Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb)
The good news: He is in the Maglia Rosa. The situation was not easy as his teammate and team leader Wilco Kelderman started the day in pink, hence limiting his ability to go on the attack. But once Kelderman cracked early, he was the best-placed rider to grab pink. But he only had a three-second lead on chief rival Tao Geoghegan Hart, who would have taken over the lead after picking up a four-second advantage given to the stage winner. But unlike on stage 18, he actually sprinted for the final intermediate bonus sprint today, which gave him a one-second bonus — the difference between the lead.
The bad news: He has absolutely no margin for error tomorrow in the final 15-kilometer time trial. Unless the two riders managed to finish again at the exact same time, tomorrow’s TT is a winner-take-all affair between first and second. A one-second advantage is all that is needed for either rider to win this year’s Giro d’Italia, and while neither Geoghegan Hart nor Hindley are noted TT specialists, the British rider nevertheless has more experience in the discipline. Tomorrow’s race against the clock in Milano may be flat, but could likely be an uphill battle for Hindley when it comes to keeping the Maglia Rosa.
Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)
The good news: There is none…or very little. The Dutchman went into the stage with the Maglia Rosa on his shoulders and lost everything. So if salvaging a podium finish in a race you hoped to win is good news then yeah, otherwise there will be plenty of frustration.
The bad news: As in the previous mountain stage, Kelderman got dropped! Hard! And he got dropped early, not in the final kilometers, but already on the penultimate climb. Once again he could only look on as Rohan Dennis forced the pace, taking Tao Geoghegan Hart and Hindley with him. But today he did not go into the stage with a several-minute advantage but just a handful of seconds. And he lost them quickly, finally finishing 1 minute 35 seconds off pace. He will start the final time trial in third place and most likely stay there. He is by far the best time trialist of the top five riders, but the final time trial is only 15 kilometers long and is insufficient to gain or lose sufficient time to matter for him when it comes to overall standings. Save a crash, he will finish in third.
João Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step)
The good news: João Almeida rode tremendously today to finish in fourth place just over a minute behind Tao Geoghegan Hart, a ride that puts him solidly into fifth place overall, a tremendous performance for this 22-year-old who graduated to the WorldTour just this year. Attacking in the final kilometer to Sestriere, he dropped everyone in his group, including the Maglia Rosa. And his ride today tops off a tremendous Giro d’Italia, where he wore the leaders jersey for over two weeks, longer than anyone his age in Giro history.
The bad news: Well, he will still finish this race in fifth place, well off the podium. And for someone that led the Giro for much of the race, there has to be a tinge of frustration. After all, it came down to one single bad day on the Stelvio. But really, there is so much more to celebrate for the Portuguese rider. He was one of the great revelations of the year and his performance is simply full of promise.
Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)
The good news: Well he moved up one place on the overall standings — into 7th-place overall.
The bad news: Nibali again lost time on the leaders, getting dropped even before Wilco Kelderman on the penultimate ascent up to Sestriere and is now 7:46 behind Jai Hindley who jumped into the pink leader’s jersey. Any thoughts of a “Hail Mary” attack from the “Shark of Messina” never materialized as he just was never able to find his best legs in this year’s Giro, clearly outpaced by the younger generation. Only time will tell if he has taken a definitive turn for the worse or simply if he was one of many riders this season who failed to hit their best stride in the compact and condensed calendar.
Jakob Fuglsang (Team Astana)
The good news: Fuglsang held his own to stay in sixth place. Starting the day 3 minutes 59 seconds down on the lead, he got dropped early but rode within himself to hold onto sixth place 6 minutes 32 seconds behind. It is nevertheless his best grand tour performance ever.
The bad news: Any hope that the Danish rider was finding his best form late in the race faded. Fuglsang wasn’t bad, but he was far from brilliant. Without losing nearly two minutes in the second week due to flats and mechanicals he would have perhaps finished in the top five, but no better.
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren)
The good news: Bilbao solidified his fourth-place overall performance and is nearly guaranteed to finish in the top five — a tremendous effort for one of the rare riders to attempt the Tour de France – Giro d’Italia double, and certainly the only one to do so as an overall contender (he finished 16th in the Tour de France just last month).
The bad news: Well after a tremendous ride over the Stelvio on stage 18, Bilbao moved to within striking distance of the podium and he started stage 20 today on one minute 19 seconds down on the Maglia Rosa. But while the pink jersey of Wilco Kelderman faded today, so did Bilbao and the two finished essentially together one minute 35 seconds behind stage winner Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley, who is now in the lead. Bilbao is now 2 minutes 51 seconds down on the lead and still over a minute down on Kelderman — in third overall now — who is a superior time trialer.
Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe)
The good news: There is no good news. A poor performance again summed up a very difficult Giro for one of the world’s best climbers.
The bad news: Majka blew big time and lost over 11 minutes, along with his spot in the top 10.