• Team Sunweb rider Australia's Jai Hindley wearing the overall leader's pink jersey after the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australian Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) moved into the race lead on the penultimate stage of the Giro d'Italia with another stellar performance in the Italian Alps as teammate Wilco Kelderman faltered and slipped out of the pink jersey.
By
SBS Cycling Central

25 Oct 2020 - 2:55 AM 

For the first time in history, the top two riders will start the final stage of a Grand Tour tied on time, as Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hindley once again rode away from the rest of the field on stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia.

Hindley finished second on the revamped Stage 20 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia, a reversal of the situation on Stage 18 as he was outsprinted by general classification rival Geoghegan Hart for the stage win.  

It was a near repeat of the queen stage that took in the ascent of the Stelvio, with again the trio of Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers), Hindley and Geoghegan Hart escaping their rivals on the penultimate ascent of the day.

The race had initially been scheduled to run into France, but with coronavirus restrictions, that was not possible and the route instead concluded with three ascents of Sestriere. 

Having been beaten in the two-up kick for the line at Laghi di Cancano two days ago, this time Geoghegan Hart made no mistake, coming from behind with 150 metres to go and holding on for the line. Having started the day three seconds down on Hindley, who grabbed another second at the late intermediate sprint, the bonus seconds on the line – ten for Geoghegan Hart, six for Hindley – meant they were tied for time atop the overall standings.

Geoghegan Hart claimed the stage win at Sestriere – his second and Ineos' sixth of the Giro – but it was Hindley who claimed the pink jersey by dint of count-back to fractions of seconds from the time trials.

"I'm speechless. It's something I've dreamed about since I was a little boy," Hindley said. "To wear the leader's jersey in a Grand Tour is an incredible privilege. It's not ideal to take it off Wilco but it's nice to keep it in the team."

"We had a plan with the team upfront today. If Wilco lost a certain amount of time I had the opportunity to go for it and try put time into Tao, which I tried to do.

"He was super strong and unfortunately I couldn’t put any time into him and it’s just the way it is. I really put it out there today but I just didn’t have it in the end but to go into the jersey, it’s massive.”

It was the second of three climbs of the Sestriere that saw the race kick up a gear, as the gaps between the top climbers again became evident.

Time trial world champions Federico Ganna and Rohan Dennis caused the splits, drinving the pace and dramatically thinning down the race.

Dennis’ pace-setting was such that the like of Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) were quickly dropped 30 kilometres from the finish.

Dennis continued to pour on the pressure and Kelderman in the pink jersey was dropped. Only Geoghegan Hart and Hindley could follow the Australian star who again showcased his stellar current form with his scintilatting showing. His effort was such that even Geoghegan Hart was briefly distanced from his teammate’s wheel.

Kelderman drifted back to a chase group with Almeida, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McClaren), and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT), with former pink jersey Almeida doing the work in front of its current holder. After a couple of kilometres of Dennis' furious pace, there were 30 seconds between the groups, meaning Hindley was virtually in pink in place of his teammate.

Hindley launched his first attack with just over 3km to go, but it was short-lived, with Dennis swiftly and coming back to the front to resume pace-making.

Further attacks from Hindley followed but he was unable to distance Geoghegan Hart, who took out the shallow gradient sprint in the finale to win the stage and move up to match the Australian on time in the general classification.