Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) won the 2020 Giro d’Italia, where two young outsiders had become the main protagonists. For the first time in the race’s history, the first two riders of the general classification started the last stage with the same time: the 25-year-old from London had just 86 hundredths of a second (equivalent to just 9 centimetres on the 3400km overall route) deficit behind the pink jersey, 24-year-old Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) from Australia, before the final individual time trial in Milan. Geoghegan Hart produced the best performance against the clock to seal his first Grand Tour win along with two stages and the white jersey of best young rider.
“I just thought about pushing hard until the last metre, and I didn't take any unnecessary risks in the last part. At the finish line I finally saw my girlfriend (the pro cyclist Hannah Barnes from Canyon//SRAM Racing) after more than a month apart, we went through the whole lockdown together. Since this morning I was thinking only of her. I'm finally not just the second best cyclist at home anymore! It was a very difficult year, I haven't seen my family for 10 months. I'm very happy,” said Geoghegan Hart after crossing the finish line.
Ganna and Démare the first week’s protagonists as Lopez and Thomas crash out
With its normal May time slot and a planned start from Budapest in Hungary impossible, the 2020 Giro d’Italia moved to October with four stages on Sicily, the biggest Italian island, before reaching the mainland. At the opening 15.1km individual time trial from Monreale to Palermo’s Duomo, ITT UCI World Champion Filippo Ganna dominated at the impressive average of almost 59km/h on the very fast and mostly downhill course, becoming the first maglia rosa on his Grand Tour debut. Unfortunately, one of the most-awaited riders, Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team), had to retire due to a nasty crash.
It was another home victory on the second stage, with its short but demanding uphill finish in the charming Agrigento: Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) beat the former triple UCI World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), another Giro debutant, in a high wattage sprint.
The third day offered the first mountain finish on the highest volcano in Europe, Mount Etna. Ecuador's Jonathan Caicedo (EF Pro Cycling) arrived solo on the top, while in the group of favourites, Dutchman Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) was the best, gaining some seconds over his rivals. Another bad crash saw another GC favourite out of the race: Briton Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) slipped on a bidon and fell in the neutralized zone. He managed to finish the stage, but had to retire, suffering from a broken pelvis. João Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) from Portugal became the new pink jersey.
Just as Ganna was unbeatable in the time trial in this edition of the Giro, so was the French National Champion Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) in the bunch sprints. The 2011 Under-23 UCI World Champion triumphed three times in four days on the 4th, 6th and 7th stages: with a bike throw in Villafranca from Sagan and the Italian Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-Quick-Step); with a dominant victory on a slightly uphill sprint in Matera ahead of the Australian Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Sagan again in a high speed finish in Brindisi. On the 5th stage, Ganna surprised the peloton, making an impressive solo attack from his breakaway mates on the mountain stage to Camigliatello Silano.
Briton Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation) arrived solo in Vieste on Stage 8 and the following day, Portuguese rider Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) won the duel with Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers) uphill in Roccaraso to claim Stage 9.
Geoghegan Hart and Hindley emerged after a hard-fought second week
The Giro d’Italia celebrated the first victory for Peter Sagan in the Corsa Rosa – more than a year after his last win – on Stage 10, arriving solo in Tortoreto. The day had started with seven new cases of Covid-19 including Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Matthews, prompting both Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott to withdraw from the race.
The second half of the second week confirmed the protagonists who featured in the first seven days of the race. Démare claimed his fourth stage victory, again beating Sagan, this time with a powerful sprint in Rimini. After a solo victory for Ecuadorian Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers) under the rain in Cesenatico, the next day Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) surged across the line in a thrilling finish in Monselice to take the Stage 13 victory.
Ulissi performed an encore in a small bunch sprint, sealed with a perfect bike throw over the maglia rosa Almeida and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe); it was his eighth victory in the Giro. Ganna also ruled the second ITT, 26” ahead of his teammate Rohan Dennis and with 43” on Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates). Stage 15 showed for the first time who would be the protagonists of the final part of the Giro: Tao Geoghegan Hart claimed attention with an impressive win on the Piancavallo, out-sprinting Kelderman and his strong teammate Jai Hindley from Australia, while Almeida lost some seconds.
Hindley and Geoghegan Hart head-to-head to decide the GC
Slovenian Jan Tratnik (Bahrain McLaren) secured Stage 16 with a solo victory in San Daniele del Friuli, and Australian Ben O'Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) followed suit on top of Stage 17’s Madonna di Campiglio. In the queen stage at Laghi di Cancano atop the Torri di Fraele, Hindley outsprinted Geoghegan Hart in the gorgeous landscape of the Dolomites; while Almeida eventually lost the pink jersey to Kelderman. Czech rider Josef Cerny (CCC Team) won the reduced Stage 19, relocated to Abbiategrasso and shortened to 124km of racing. Then Stage 20 saw another fight between Geoghegan Hart and Hindley after the triple climb of Sestriere with the Briton winning the stage and the Australian becoming the new pink jersey.
For the first time in Grand Tour history, the first and second on GC would start the final stage with the same time: everything would be decided on the ITT to Milan’s Duomo. As widely expected, the rainbow jersey Filippo Ganna destroyed the course at an impressive average of 54.556km/h, while Geoghegan Hart went 39 seconds quicker than Hindley to claim the 103rd Giro d’Italia and his first Grand Tour victory.