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Giro d'Italia | Stage 20

Uninterrupted Coverage, Alba – Sestriere (181km)

03:44:23

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Here's how Geoghegan Hart beat Hindley...

... to take his second win of the race and a sixth for Ineos Grenadiers - and to set up an almighty battle tomorrow between him and Hindley, level on time on the summit of the Giro.

‘Geoghegan Hart is in pole position to win the Giro!’ – Watch dramatic Stage 20 finale

Sunweb keep the jersey: Hindley in pink

Confirmation that it will be Australia's Jai Hindley who rolls down the ramp last and in pink tomorrow... And that may work in Tao Geoghegan Hart's favour, taking off the pressure somewhat on what will be the biggest 15km of both their careers.

Today's Stage 20 result

Bravo to Joao Almeida who battled for fourth place while Wilco Kelderman limited his losses to 1'35" to keep his podium dreams alive even if he's conceded the maglia rosa.

Dennis third and man of the match award

Bravo to Rohan Dennis there who takes third place there 25 seconds down...

Who is in pink?!?

Hindley had four seconds going in, but Tao took four seconds back with the bonus at the end... Only a time trial can seperate them now!

Victory for Tao Geoghegan Hart!

Geoghegan Hart lets Hindley ride on the front as they enter the final few hundred metres... who will win a second stage on this race? And here goes Georghegan Hart! And he wins!!

A sixth for Ineos Grenadiers! And a second for that man Geoghegan Hart...

Final Kilometre

It's a flat finish so you'd think Tao would win this - and with the bonus seconds, that would put them neck-and-neck on GC: a zero second gap.

1.5km to go: Dennis back!

Give the man a knighthood! What a ride from the Australian. Hindley had put in two more digs for which Geoghegan Hart has a reply - then just when we thought it was a two-horse race, Rohan Dennis rolls through to knock another psychological blow on the Sunweb youngster.

But the Australian attacks again! Tao replies and they go clear again ahead of the flamme rouge...

2.5km to go: Another Hindley surge

A second dig from Hindley sees Geoghegan Hart respond but Dennis falls back. The two best riders in this Giro ride clear. What a finale - and we still have tomorrow! Just four seconds between them at the moment...

3km to go: Hindley attacks!

Now Jai Hindley goes! But Geoghegan Hart has the measure of him before the mighty impressive Dennis powers clear in front of them both to restore some order. Behind, Bilbao has joined Almeida - they're 50 seconds down.

4km to go: Almeida attacks!

The Portuguese tyro has zipped clear of the chasers and rejoined his teammate Serry in between. What a ride from the man who spent 15 days in pink - he's cementing his top five position here.

5km to go: Gap coming down

The gap is down to 1'20" now which is interesting. If it keeps coming down and Kelderman can limit his losses, he is the stronger TT rider and so could yet be a factor in this race.

7km to go: Cat.1 Sestriere

We're onto the final ascent - even though it's been going uphill for the past 5km since the descent was completed. Dennis taps out tempo with teammate Geoghegan Hart behind and Hindley right in his wheel. Pieter Serry is still there - he's the only rider left from the break. This quartet has 1'45" on the Kelderman group, which is being driven by Knox for Almeida. Bilbao is there, and Nibali, Pozzovivo, O'Connor and a handful of others.

7.5km to go: Hindley wins bonus sprint

Just as Holmes and Rubio are tailed off, Hindley bounds clear to take the second intermediate sprint ahead of Geoghegan Hart, so that will extend his virtual lead now to four seconds. The Australian will look to drop his rival on this final climb and pocket the 10 bonus seconds at the finish. Should he have 30 seconds or more going into tomorrow's TT, he should win this Giro.

9km to go: Leaders caught

Rubio, Serry and Ballerini are caught 2km from the sprint. They latch on to the back. Bouchard is no longer here, but Vendrame is. The Kelderman group is 1'35" back.

11km to go: Trio ahead

That Quick-Step pair has caught Rubio but their gap is just 25 seconds on the Hindley group. Will they catch them before the sprint or will these leaders take all the bonus seconds?

13km to go: Six chasers

Hindley, Geoghegan Hart, Dennis and Holmes have swept up Ag2R duo Vendrame and Bouchard. They have Rubio one minute up the road and Serry and Ballerini somewhere in between.

17km to go: Hindley enjoying himself

The Australian may be riding himself into the maglia rosa, but he's also having a lot of fun - pulling off a little bunny hope there during this descent despite the enormity of the task in hand.

22km to go: Daredevil descending

Lone leader Einer Rubio is really giving it some welly on this final descent of the Giro. He has 1'30" on the Tao-Hindley-Dennis-Holmes group and 2'15" on the Kelderman group. Remember, there are 3-2-1 bonus seconds at the second sprint in the valley coming up. That will see Geoghegan Hart try to slash his 3-second deficit on Hindley, I'm sure.

26km to go: Kelderman 40 seconds back

The maglia rosa is with Bilbao, Almeida, Pozzovivo and Nibali - plus a few of the former breakaway riders, who have been swept up. Rubio, meanwhile, approaches the summit of the climb with Serry in pursuit. The Colombian goes over with a good gap of one minute over Serry. Then it's Honore and Bouchard, before the Hindley group, who have Holmes from the break - so another ostensible ally for Geoghegan Hart there, the Briton from Lotto.

29km to go: Hindley the virtual maglia rosa

The Colombian has caught and passed Ballerini on the front. He has about 1'40" on the Big 3 (Dennis, TGH and Hindley) with Kelderman in a chasing group about 25 seconds back. That puts the man in white in virtual pink.

30km to go: KELDERMAN DROPPED!

Wow - Rohan Dennis, again, is so strong he almost drops his own teammate there... Geoghegan Hart digs deep to return with Hindley, but Kelderman and Bilbao have been dropped - like all the rest. Just three riders now out ahead... This is amazing.

31km to go: Sunweb isolated!

The main maglia rosa group has completely exploded! Nibali has been dropped, and Almeida... It's Dennis on the front with Geoghegan Hart, then Hindley and Kelderman, with BIlbao and Pozzovivo digging in.

32km to go: Majka dropped

Rafal Majka is not on a good day. The Pole can't keep up with this pace being set by Ineos. The gap for Ballerini is 3'20". The Italian has Einer Rubio of Movistar in pursuit leading a chase group that includes the other two Quick-Step riders - Serry and Honore - and Ghebreigzabhier. They are 45 seconds back. Behind, Bouchard is battling to rejoin them to make it a quintet.

35km to go: Cat.1 Sestriere

We're onto the penultimate climb of the Giro, which is 6.9km at 7.2% (or 6.5km at 7.5% depending on your source). It's show time.

36km to go: All splitting up

Ballerini is still out ahead with a 4'20 gap on the pack, which itself has fragmented owing to the pace of the Ineos train. It's Puccio and Ganna doing the damage, with Demare swept up and distanced, and breakaway riders dotted all over the road.

40km to go: All in for Almeida?

Ballerini is still out ahead - and perhaps he's paving the way for Quick-Step's Joao Almeida? The Portuguese tyro led the race for 15 days before succumbing to the inevitable on the Stelvio. But he's still in fifth place and this climb to Sestriere suits his strengths for it's not too long and not too steep. It would be a fitting end to his superb debut Grand Tour.

47km to go: Ballerini out ahead

It's the Deceuninck Quick-Step domestique sprinter who has soared clear on the descent, with the main pack now within four minutes of the breakaway. The riders now drop down to Cesana Torinese before climbing back up to Sestriere on the steeper, southern approach, which they will do twice ahead of the finish.

52km to go: Fiorelli takes KOM points

The Italian Filippo Fiorelli, who was distanced earlier on that long climb, darts clear to take maximum KOM points over the top - more for prestige than any other reason, given Ruben Guerreiro has already wrapped up the king of the mountains competition. He has compatriot Davide Ballerini in pursuit as the breakaway pass through Sestriere for the first time today.

56km to go: Ineos tap out tempo

For a brief moment it looked like Bahrain-McLaren were going to come to the front there, but then Bilbao took a message through on the radio and let Ineos, who had also gathered following the dropping back of the last Astana rider, to take it up. It's Puccio on the front ahead of Ganna and Geoghegan Hart.

60km to go: Not far from the summit

Because it's been going uphill for ages, this climb has almost crept up upon us. The official climb to Sestriere from the east is 31.8km long at an average of 4%. Demare is back with the break now - in fact, he's towards the tail of it after his brief foray up the road. Five minutes for these 21 riders now.

65km to go: Demare attacks!

The Frenchman battled back on with those other tailed-off riders from the break - and the Frenchman has now ridden clear of the breakaway as the road eases up a little ahead of the climb. Chapeau, Arnaud! Doing the maglia ciclamino proud.

66km to go: Grenadier grenade

Just the one Astana rider on the front now, shadowed by all six remaining Ineos Grenadiers riders. They are already ramping things up in preparation for whatever their plan might be today. Whatever happens today, Ineos have been a revelation in this Giro - bouncing back from the disappointment of Geraint Thomas's withdrawal by winning five stages and seeing Geoghegan Hart mount a challenge for the pink jersey. On top of that, Tao, Puccio and Castroviejo have all finished second in stages too.

71km to go: First breakaway shake-up

Sprinters Demare, Viviani and Cimolai are off the back now after Nicola Conci put in a big acceleration to whittle down the break and shed some of the deadwood (with all due respect to quadruple stage winner Demare). That needed to be done, with the gap coming down to 5'15". Here's a photo of the breakaway from earlier...

The breakaway on the first ascent of Sestriere during stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia 2020

Image credit: Getty Images

Before Armstrong and Chiappucci: Chozas

Spaniard Eduardo Chozas (now a Eurosport pundit in Spain) denied Italy's Claudio Chiappucci in the Giro d'Italia's first ever summit finish in the ski resort of Sestriere in 1991 – 14 months before El Diablo soloed to victory on the same climb in one of the most magnificent breakaways in Tour de France history.

This Re-Cycle piece looks into that first Giro finish at Sestriere - which came after a double ascent to the ski resort - and the related stories, including Chiappucci's historic breakaway win in 1992 and Lance Armstrong's landmark Tour victory in Sestriere in 1999.

75km to go: Sunweb and Ineos move up

Astana still front the pack with three riders but the teams of the top three riders on GC have now made the presence known, with Bilbao's Bahrain-McLaren train tucked in just behind. The gap is down to 5'45" for the leaders.

80km to go: Haga moves up

Astana now have two riders on the front with Sunweb's Chad Haga slipping in third wheel ahead of the Bora-Hansgrohe train. It's been going uphill for a long time - to you and me, this is a proper climb - but for the pros, the proper ascent has yet to start. Six minutes now for the 21 leaders.

Tight at the top

The Giro has been fiercely contested in these recent years. The gap between first and second is just 12 seconds at the moment. Last year, Carapaz beat Nibali by 1'05", in 2018 Froome beat Dumoulin by 46", in 2017 Dumoulin beat Quintana by 31", in 2016 Nibali beat Chaves by 52". So that gives you an idea of how it could come down to the wire again.

Sestriere scenarios...

There are so many permutations to today and tomorrow's double header. Hindley looks stronger than Kelderman in the mountains but the Dutchman has a far superior time trial in his cabinet, while TGH is somewhere in between on TT but on an equal footing going uphill.

Ineos probably have the stronger team, though, so they could really put the likes of Ganna, Dennis, Castroviejo, Swift and Puccio to work on this long first ascent to whittle down the pack, get Dennis to do what he did on the Stelvio on the second ascent, then hope Tao goes clear on the final ascent. He would need 30 seconds on Kelderman to be comfortable going into tomorrow's 15km TT.

We could also see Sunweb play the Hindley card to take the maglia rosa. And providing Kelderman doesn't concede too much time, he could still take back the jersey tomorrow. One thing is probably certain: if Geoghegan Hart isn't in pink tonight, he will struggle to be so tomorrow - unless his deficit to Hindley going into the TT is small.

And then there's Pello Bilbao. If he can take a minute or so off Kelderman and the others, he's right in the mix.

90km to go: Splits in the peloton

But it's nothing serious... It happens as the riders pass through the feed zone, resulting in a group of about 30 - including the maglia rosa, his Sunweb team, Astana and Bora-Hansgrohe - open up a gap. Ineos and Bahrain are behind, but there's no push from the front. It was just one of those natural breaks. The lead is 6'40" for the 21 escapees.

95km to go: Astana take it up

Bahrain-McLaren have dropped back a little now so it's the entire Astana team - by which I mean all five of them - setting tempo on the front. Jakob Fuglsang rode well with Pello Bilbao over the Stelvio so perhaps the Danish veteran has good legs today.

The climb has yet to start but it's a gradual grind over a false flat all the way to the foot of the climb, which comes 30-odd kilometres from the summit.

Meanwhile, over in the Vuelta, a former Giro champion has given his view to how his Ineos teammate should ride today's stage in Italy...

What may have been...

Today's stage was meant to venture into France via the Colle dell'Agnello before returning to Italy after scaling the Izoard and Montgenevre. It would have been quite a way to end this Giro - and a test far more fearsome for the current maglia rosa than what's in store today.

There were concerns about snow and rain today - that was what many thought would prove the stumbling block for the Agnello. But in the end, the weather is fine and the reason the race couldn't enter France was because of the ongoing coronavirus safety measures.

Anyway, just to retrospectively whet the appetite, here's what today could have been...

https://i.eurosport.com/2020/10/02/2900613.jpg

110km to go: Gap stays at 7 minutes

The fact that Astana are still driving the tempo in the pack suggests that Jakob Fuglsang doesn't think this race is over just yet. Of course, the Dane could simply in the hunt for a stage win. But he's 3'59" down in sixth - and with so much inexperience above him in the standings - perhaps he's eyeing a rise into the top five, perhaps even the podium positions.

120km to go: Astana and Bahrain set tempo

Ineos and Sunweb are keeping their power dry for now back in the peloton. Astana have two on the front and then the rest of their five-man team beind the entire Bahrain-McLaren train (bar Tratnik, who is in the break). Then we have Nibali's Trek and the Bora team of top 10 riders Majka and Konrad. And only then do we have the team of the man in pink.

The gap is still 7'10" for the 21 leaders.

130km to go: All smiles before Sestriere

Things seem nice and relaxed in the Ineos camp ahead of these three back-to-back climbs. Filippo Ganna and Rohan Dennis will be key when it comes down to setting tempo for Tao in the first long slog up to Sestriere from the eastern approach via Paesana - which is over 30km long.

138km to go : Demare wins intermediate sprint

The very fact that Peter Sagan is not in this breakaway is evidence that the Slovakian showman has already given up on any hopes of winning the maglia ciclamino. In any case, it's no impossible because the Frenchman has added another 12 points to his tally - so he leads Sagan by 49pts in the standings. Remind me again why the French champion didn't get selected for the Tour?

The gap, meanwhile, is seven minutes for our 21 chancers. It's been quite feisty behind with Astana leading the chase earlier before opening up a gap with a few Ineos riders - forcing Sunweb to make the connection and close it down. It looks like Geoghegan Hart's teammates are already trying their best to destabilise Kelderman and Hindley.

150km to go: McNulty best-placed

Most of the riders in the move are over two, three or four hours off the lead. In Guglielmi's case - five hours behind Kelderman in the standings. But there's one rider who is a mild danger and that's the American McNulty, who is 33'12" down and in 14th place. The 22-year-old Grand Tour debutant was up to fourth after his superb time trial at the end of the second week, but he's since struggled in the mountains. Can he return to the top 10 today?

155km to go: Six minutes

The advantage of this large group has ballooned to six minutes on this flat section that heads west across the Tanaro plains and towards Saluzzo, where we have the intermediate sprint.

160km to go: 21 out ahead

Those groups have come together so we have 21 riders out ahead now: Geoffrey Bouchard and Andrea Vendrame (both Ag2R-La Mondiale), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-McLaren), Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani-CSF), Kamil Malecki (CCC Team), Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Davide Ballerini, Mikkel Honore and Pieter Serry (Deceuninck Quick-Step), Tanel Kangert (EF Pro Cycling), Arnaud Demare and Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ), Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation), Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal), Einer Rubio and Davide Villalle (both Movistar), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Matteo Sobrero (both NTT Pro Cycling), Julien Bernard and Nicola Conci (both Trek-Segafredo), and Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates).

Behind, it's the Sunweb team of Kelderman who set the tempo on the front of the peloton...

170km to go: Breakaway goes clear

A big break has gone clear and it includes that man Arnaud Demare – no doubt on the hunt for the intermediate sprint points to finally wrap up the maglia ciclamino – as well as former stage winner Jan Tratnik and the American Brandon McNulty. There's a baker's dozen of them with another chase group behind likely to bridge over soon.

Hansen and Vegni patch things up?

Race organiser Mauro Vegni was irate about yesterday's farce and promised that "someone will pay" once the Giro was over. That someone was thought to be Adam Hansen, who led the strike action as the rider representative of the CPA union. But Vegni wouldn't single out anyone today when asked who he had beef with, but did reiterate that someone would pay... Here, seen before the stage, Hansen and Vegni do a fist pump - so perhaps they have patched things up?

Who's in what jersey?

A quick reminder that Wilco Kelderman leads this race by 12 seconds over his Sunweb teammate Jai Hindley, with Tao Geoghegan Hart of Ineos Grenadiers just three seconds further back. All three riders will have to be aware of the threat posed by the Spaniard Pello Bilbao of Bahrain-McLaren, though. He's riding stealthily but well and is only 1'19" down in fourth.

It's the Australian Hindley who is in white thanks to that three-second lead over Geoghegan Hart, while yesterday Arnaud Demare all but sewed up the maglia ciclamino standings when Bora-Hansgrohe called off the chase and conceded the stage to the breakaway. The Frenchman has a 37-point lead over Peter Sagan.

Finally, Ruben Guerreiro leads the maglia azzurra standings by 112pts over Thomas De Gendt so it's very unlikely we'll see such a swing today. In fact, it's numerically impossible.

190km to go: They're off!

Today's key final mountain stage is under way. It'll be a couple of hours before the action hots up but it will be interesting to see who goes in the break and who controls the tempo in the peloton.

Today's reworked profile

Stage 20 was meant to be the jewel in Mauro Vegni's crown - a queen stage that took the riders into France over the interminable Colle dell'Agnello and then back into Italy via Montgenevre following an ascent of the legendary Col d'Izoard.

All that's left of those plans are the start in Alba and the finish in Sestriere - with the riders now tackling the climb to the ski resort from the eastern side before dropping down to Cesana Torinese and heaing back up via the southern approach. They will then loop back down after crossing the finish line for one more lap - a third ascent that could decide the outcome of this Giro.

https://i.eurosport.com/2020/10/24/2921204.jpg

Riders ready to stage Stage 20

There's no rain, there's been no protest, and even Adam Hansen is there and ready to give it a go. So buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the spectacle on Sestiere in a stage which could decide the outcome of the 103rd edition of the Giro d'Italia.

Wiggins: Peloton made more of a stand against rain than racism

Bradley Wiggins branded the eleventh-hour decision to shorten a stage at the Giro d’Italia a “shambles” and asked where these protests were when Kevin Reza spoke out against racism at the Tour de France.

A revolt in the peloton – although not a unanimous one – forced organisers to slash the 251km Stage 19 on Friday, with the riders spending the first 118km on a bus.

Race director Mauro Vegni fumed at the decision, saying “someone would pay”, while Bahrain-McLaren chief Rod Ellingworth said his team were not consulted and were happy to race.

But Wiggins used the protests to highlight another issue in the sport: the meek response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

HOW TO WATCH THE GIRO D'ITALIA LIVE – TV & LIVE STREAMING

The 103rd edition of the Giro d'Italia is live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport App.

You can watch the entire race on digital platforms for £6.99 (monthly subscription), while an annual pass is £39.99.

Each day Eurosport.co.uk will stream uninterrupted coverage of each stage. We will also have rolling coverage online on the website and our social channels.

And don't forget, we are bringing you daily podcasts from the Bradley Wiggins Show - check in with your podcast platform of choice each evening.

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