This article originally appeared on VeloNews.com
Having started dead-level on time with Jai Hindley, the 25-year-old Londoner bettered the Sunweb rider to take the pink jersey by 39 seconds in Milano.
Geoghegan Hart finished a solid 13th on the stage, but the real race was about the winner-takes-all battle with Hindley, who finished 39 seconds slower to take 38th on the stage and finish second overall.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this would be possible when we started nearly a month ago in Sicily,” Geoghegan Hart said after the stage. “I think all of my career I’ve dreamed of trying to be top 5 or top 10 in a race of this stature, so this is something completely and utterly different to that, and I think this is going to take a long time to sink in.”
There was little surprise that Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) won the stage, completing his set of three time trial victories from three at the race. The world champion’s convincing 32-second victory over Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) was the young Italian’s fourth stage win of the Giro, and seventh for his team.
“It’s the 21st stage of the race, I didn’t want to take too many risks,” Ganna said after his ride. “I didn’t take any risks, like the last time trial. I wanted to have a good result today. I thought someone could go better than me today, but I’ve gone very well.”
With the GC victory and seven stage wins, Ineos Grenadiers’ Giro campaign is statistically their most successful grand tour yet, a remarkable feat given the early loss of their planned leader, Geraint Thomas. Geoghegan Hart becomes the fourth British grand tour winner from the Sky / Ineos team, having ridden himself into the pink jersey after starting the race as a domestique for teammate Thomas.
The youngster was quick to deflect any talk of becoming the new GC hope for Ineos Grenadiers.
“I don’t know, and I don’t really care,” he said when asked about his future after the stage. “I’m just going to enjoy this. It’s incredible. Really really incredible. I’m going to stay the same person, stay as professional as I believe I always have been. Dedicated. Waking up every day looking forward to riding my bike and loving my life and being grateful for the honor and the privledge to be in this team and at these beautiful races.”
Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) and Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) rounded out the podium behind Ganna.
As expected, Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) took third on GC after starting the day with a large buffer on fourth place. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), who held the pink jersey against all odds through the middle of the race, was rewarded for his breakout ride in Italy by blazing through the final time trial to take fourth on the stage and move up one position on GC to fourth overall.
The pan-flat 15.7 kilometer test into the center of Milano was one for the heavy hitters, with only a few roundabouts to navigate and long straight stretches.
Campenaerts was the first major contender for the stage to roll down the ramp and moved into the provisional lead, setting a time of 17:48. The Belgian wasn’t in the hotseat long however, with red-hot favorite Ganna starting soon afterward.
As expected, Milano-local Ganna blazed through the course, going 21 seconds at the first time check and bettering Campenaerts by 32 seconds to set the benchmark time of 17.16 – an average speed of 54.6kph.
Rohan Dennis was the one man slated to be capable of beating Ganna. After storming his way through the mountains in support of Geoghegan Hart, the former world champ didn’t have the edge he needed, finishing milliseconds behind Campenaerts to place third.
Though there was no time gap between Hindley and Tao Geoghegan Hartat the start of the day, there were wide time differences between positions three through ten, and little movement was expected in the lower GC slots through such a short course.
The one major winner from the stage was Almeida, who continued to show his TT prowess having taken second and sixth in the stages so far this Giro. The Portuguese youngster finished his Giro on a high to place fourth on the stage, just 41 seconds back on Ganna, a ride that would give him fourth overall in his grand tour debut.
Wilco Kelderman bounced back from his disappointment in the mountains and tumble from the pink jersey to defend his third place on the podium with a ride to 11th place
As leader of the race, Hindley set off last, just three minutes after Tao Geoghegan Hart. Though both got off to a smooth fast start, the Brit had the confidence to take the turns in the skis longer and pushed a big, heavy gear.
The Londoner went through the intermediate check 10 seconds up on Hindley and continued to grow his lead from there. The Brit continued to stretch his advantage over his Australian rival through the back-half of the stage, despite being told to back off by staffers in the following car.
“My DS Matteo Tossato said I was 10 seconds up, and he kept giving me a few seconds,” Geoghegan Hart said. “I only knew we must be in a good situation when he was screaming to not take any risks in the last kilometer. Not often your DS tells you to slow down that much in a 15km TT. But I also knew the work was done at that point.”