With the Tour de France having got the 2020 Grand Tour calendar underway following the initial shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was time for the Giro d’Italia to take centre stage. With an altered route at times, riders still went through 3,361.4km of hard riding between the 3ʳᵈ and 25ᵗʰ October, and this all culminated in 25-year-old Tao Geoghegan Hart earning the Maglia Rosa on the final stage, becoming the 5ᵗʰ Brit to win a Grand Tour.


General Classification:

  1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain) – Ineos Grenadiers – 85h 40′ 21″
  2. Jai Hindley (Australia) – Team Sunweb   + 00′ 39″
  3. Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands) – Team Sunweb   + 01′ 29″

Points Classification:

  1. Arnaud Démare (France) – Groupama–FDJ – 233 points
  2. Peter Sagan (Slovakia) – Bora–Hansgrohe – 184 points
  3. João Almeida (Portugal) – Deceuninck–Quick-Step – 108 points

Mountains Classification:

  1. Ruben Guerreiro (Portugal) – EF Pro Cycling – 234 points
  2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain) – Ineos Grenadiers – 157 points
  3. Thomas De Gendt (Belgium) – Lotto–Soudal– 122 points

Young Rider Classification:

  1. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain) – Ineos Grenadiers – 85h 40′ 21″
  2. Jai Hindley (Australia) – Team Sunweb   + 00′ 39″
  3. João Almeida (Portugal) – Deceuninck–Quick-Step + 2′ 57″

Teams Classification:

  1. Ineos Grenadiers – 257h 15′ 58″
  2. Deceuninck–Quick-Step + 22′ 32″
  3. Team Sunweb  + 28′ 50″

It’s probably no surprise that a 3-week race has a number of highs and lows as it progresses. Today I will be looking 3 highs and 3 lows that stuck with me as I watched the race

Low – Crashing out early

With Individual Time Trials accounting for 3 of the 21 stages in this year’s Giro and a number of big names missing following the Tour de France and World Championships, this looked like a race Geraint Thomas was destined to win. However, the Welshman’s dreams of winning the Giro came crashing down on the streets of Sicily as his bike caught a discarded bottle, sending him to the ground at high speed. Though he managed to complete the stage, a fractured hip brought his race to an early end after just 3 stages.

cycling giro geraint thomas ineos

G is one of the great personalities in the peloton, and it is never nice to see someone’s race ended early, but it was even more disappointing given his history of bad luck in Grand Tours. Hopefully we will see G leading the team at Grand Tours again next year, but with the sheer number of Grand Tour winners in the Ineos Grenadiers ranks next season – despite Chris Froome’s move to Israel Start-Up Nation – he’s going to have to be on top form.

High – Plan B

While G’s injury and early abandonment were a clear low in the race, it actually led to one of the biggest highs. The one benefit to losing your leader just a few stages into a 3-week race is that you have time to adjust your plan for the race. And this is exactly what Ineos Grenadiers did, and it led to their most successful Grand Tour!

They were always going to be the favourites in the ITTs with World Time Trial Champion Filippo Ganna in their line-up and the Italian duly won all 3 of the stages, while also showing that he is more than just a TT rider with a sensational ride on Stage 5 to take a 4ᵗʰ stage victory in the race. Meanwhile, fellow TT specialist Rohan Dennis also showed his quality with 2 top 10 finishes in the Time Trials, but his biggest impact on the race came in the final few days as he became the key domestique on the climbs, dragging Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley away from the Maglia Rosa and to constantly come back when Hindley attacked on the final climb of the penultimate stage. Jhonatan Narváez also added to the success of the team with a win on Stage 12 when he attacked from the break.

cycling giro tao geoghegan hart trophyAnd then of course we come to Tao Geoghegan Hart, who came to the race as a domestique for Thomas but instead found himself becoming the leader. The 25-year-old held with the leaders when many others struggled, and a win on Stage 15 propelled him not just into the top 10 but all the way to 4ᵗʰ in the GC. Then in the final few days of climbing, he was able to ride away from the Maglia Rosa along with Rohan Dennis and Jai Hidley of Sunweb, leaving us in the craziest of situations where 20 stage of riding saw the lead of the general classification come down to a fraction of a second between 2 riders who came to the race as domestiques – a margin he was able to overcome with a strong time trial on the final day to become the latest Grand Tour winner.

Low – COVID Chaos

We may be back to racing, but that doesn’t mean that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and it certainly had its impact on this race.

Adam Yates was one of the favourites to win the race, but struggled through the first week before abandoning ahead of Stage 8 following a positive COVID test. Just a few days later, the rest of his Mitchelton–Scott team abandoned after 4 staff members tested positive.

The entirety of Team Jumbo–Visma also abandoned on the first rest day after Steven Kruijswijk tested positive, while sprinters Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) also abandoned following positive tests.

First things first, you could question why there were not standardised processed in place, with Team Jumbo–Visma pulling out after 1 positive test within the team, but Team Sunweb and UAE Team Emirates continuing without the rider in question. Second, you could ask why the riders were staying in hotels that were also open to the public, and why we were still seeing fans without masks able to get within metres of the riders on some of the climbs.

Without the riders, there is no product, so you would think the UCI and race organisers would be working harder to look after them.

High – Alex Dowsett’s big day

We’ve all had one of those days where things start wrong an you just know it’s setting the trend for the day. Well Israel Start-Up Nation’s British rider Alex Dowsett thought it was going to be one of those days on 10ᵗʰ October when, ahead of Stage 8, he tweeted out “Cleaned my teeth then realised I hadn’t drunk my freshly brewed coffee yet this morning. I really hope the day picks up because it started with a nightmare.”

Well the day certainly did get better for him, as he managed to get in the break and then attack to win his first Grand Tour stage since a Time Trial in the 2013 Giro, but even more importantly, Israel Start-Up Nation’s first ever Grand Tour stage.

The joy of a 3-week race like the Grand Tours is that while you will have days where the focus is on the big names like the GC contenders or the sprinters, there will also be great stories like this to look out for as the weeks go on.

Low – Avoidable accidents

Sadly, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 wasn’t the only risk the riders were exposed to, as there were a couple of incidents during the race that the UCI and race organisers should be ashamed of.

There has already been plenty of questioning of the quality of barriers at races following their catastrophic failure during the Tour of Poland crash between Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen, and they failed again miserably on Stage 4, as a helicopter flying low overhead resulted in some of the barriers near the end of the course blowing into the riders passing at that moment, leading to some serious injuries.

Sadly this wasn’t the only incident with an outside influence, as Stage 11 saw one of the camera motorbikes try to make it’s way up through the peloton at a point where they were closely grouped to make their way through some technical turns. With space quickly disappearing, the motorbike was left with nowhere to go, other than into Elia Viviani, who was knocked off his bike.

Accidents are unavoidable in bike racers, we all know how easy it is to just slightly touch wheels within the peloton, or to lose the bike from underneath you as you try taking a turn too fast. But both of these accidents are bringing outside influences into the race that are putting the riders at risk, and it doesn’t feel like anything is being done to improve their safety. Frankly, that’s just not good enough.

High – Young and hungry

In the last couple of years, we have started to see more and more success for young riders who are deemed to be well before what has previously been their prime. Riders like Egan Bernal and Tadej Pogačar have not just gone against that conventional thinking, but laughed in its face as they have won Grand Tours in their early 20s.

In this edition of the Giro, 25-year-old Tao Geoghegan Hart and 24-year-old Jai Hindley came with the intention of riding for Geraint Thomas and Wilco Kelderman respectively. But when push came to shove in the final days, they were the ones riding for the title. Meanwhile, 22-year-old João Almeida was shocked everyone by taking the pink jersey from Filippo Ganna on Stage 3 and holding it right up to Stage 18, before finally finishing 4ᵗʰ. Even Ganna himself proved that he is more than just a time trial rider with his win on Stage 5 proving that you can never take him for granted if he gets up the road in a break.

These performances are by no means saying that what was considered a rider’s prime is now too old, but instead it highlights that we are in a new golden age of cycling where even the experts are left shocked by the quality of performances right through the peloton. Now that is a great thing indeed!

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