Time, as Albert Einstein was fond of telling anyone who’d listen, is a relative concept. Today, Stage 20, pushed that concept to breaking point.
Jai Hindley and Tao Geoghegan-Hart, ascending the slopes up to Sestriere for the third and final time on this crucial stage, could not have been closer. Shoulder to shoulder and separated by the width of a panel of highly technical cycling kit.
No more than that.
Einstein, as far as I know, didn’t factor in clothing spec.Embed from Getty Images
For the majority of the final two ascents Geoghegan-Hart’s teammate Rohan Dennis had been firmly in charge of proceedings.
As he did on the Stelvio, back on Stage 18, the Aussie had taken it upon himself to reduce the peloton to tears. Pulling on the front and dispatching Pink Jersey (and, lest we forget, Hindley’s teammate) Wilko Kelderman on ascent number two.
Barring a final stage miracle, ‘Kelderman in Pink’ will be a side story in this Giro.Embed from Getty Images
Hindley v Geoghegan-Hart (plus the near un-droppable Dennis) would decide who entered tomorrow’s time-trial in the race lead.
Heading towards the summit finish we waited for an attack. We wondered who had the legs and who was hanging on. Finally Hindley, able to resist no longer, went; Geoghegan-Hart was immediately right, and I mean RIGHT, on his wheel. Overlapping for effect.
Hindley slowed. Dennis and Geoghegan-Hart re-grouped. Hindley repeated the move.
This went on for a while.
Not a millimetre being conceded.
Into the final kilometre our two rode side by side. Literally touching. Seperated by four seconds on the General Classification and less than nothing on the road. Matters could only be closer had Geoghegan-Hart leapt across onto Hindley’s back and ridden him to the finish line.
He didn’t.Embed from Getty Images
Instead, with one late burst – his single attack of the day – Geoghegan-Hart swept around and won a glorious sprint to the line.
The bonus seconds ensured that after twenty Stages, and more than three thousand kilometres, the pair of them are dead level. The race organisers, channelling their inner Einstein for a ruling, putting Hindley in Pink.
It was dramatic and gladiatorial. The images of them side by side in the final kilometre poised to enter the pro-cycling hall of fame.
Tomorrow, Stage 21, we have a time-trial in Milan. Whoever of these two rides faster over fifteen kilometres is the new winner of the Giro d’Italia.
Simple as that.