Bradley Wiggins was rambling and emotional in the Eurosport commentary box. Sir Dave Brailsford, team boss at Ineos, was cuddling anyone at the finish line (and within the Covid-secure bubble, of course) who moved. Rob Hatch, the voice of cycling, had gone up a couple of octaves.
All of which told us that Tao Geoghegan-Hart – Londan lad, top notch cyclist, and all-round cheeky monkey – had only gone and actual won the actual Giro d’Italia. “Well blow me dahn wiv a fever,” they’ll be saying back home in Hackney, East London, “crack open the bubbly, we’re ‘avin a Moriarty.”Embed from Getty Images
Because that’s how Eastenders talk day-to-day, right?
Having begun the day level on time with Aussie Jai Hindley after twenty stages of racing – the first time this has ever happened in the history of Grand Tour cycling – fifteen kilometres of city centre time-trailling would give us a winner.
Because finishing level again, after this, would lead to all kinds of count-back shenanigans and give a us a winner with a horribly unsatisfactory taste in our mouths.
The tension, in the end, was yesterday (as our man responded to the repeated attacks of Hindley and refused – just REFUSED – to allow him an inch), and then today, right up until the moment he rolled down that start ramp, managed to stay upright, and avoided an embarrassing start ramp mishap (it happens).
Once he was on the course – a flat, straight, fifteen kilomtres into the heart of Milan – it became simple.
Massive power through the legs + highly refined aero position = fast finishing time.
From our first time-check, the Giro belonged to Tao. With no climbs, few corners, and limited opportunity to exploit a weakness and claw back time, it was the truest ‘race of truth’ ever seen.Embed from Getty Images
His teammate Filippo Ganna had mullered the course earlier in the day to guarantee an Ineos Stage win. Now our little cockney sparrow, the calmest man in Europe, was trampling all over his spirited, classy rival; the fact that Hindley would wear Pink, on the road in this Giro, for a mere eighteen minutes in total, was usurped only by the even quirkier fact that Geoghegan-Hart would slip into it for the first and only time on the podium.
In a year of curveballs and random events, Tao Geoghegan-Hart winning the Giro d’Italia is amongst the curviest and most random. And yet, having watched it play out, and witnessed our perky Londoner ride with such style, talent, and determination, it simultaneously seems like the most natural (and heart-warming) thing in the world.