Tao Geoghegan Hart gave Britain one of its sporting moments of the year by winning Giro d’Italia in the closest final day of a Grand Tour in history.
The East Londoner blasted past Jai Hindley, with whom he was locked level at the start of the final stage, with an incredible 15.7km time trial ride into Milan.
Hart realised a dream and became the fifth British rider to win a Grand Tour race, following Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine this would be possible when we started a month ago in Sicily,” said the 25-year-old.
“All my career I’ve dreamt of trying to, maybe, be top five or top ten in a race of this stature.
“This is completely and utterly different to that and it’s going to take a lot of time to sink in.
“I don’t know and I don’t care what comes after this. I’m just going to enjoy it, it’s incredible. I’m going to stay the same person, as professional and dedicated as I always have been.
“I’m going to wake up every day looking forward to riding my bike, loving my life and being grateful for the honour and the amazing position, the privilege, I’m in to be in this position on this team in these beautiful races.”
Hart was born in London Fields, the son of a builder, and started out at Hackney Cycling Club. He joined Team Sky, in their former guise, in 2017.
He came to Italy to ride as a domestique for Thomas before the Welshman crashed out on Stage Three, winning mountain stages 15 and 20 to mount an unlikely challenge.
He came into the final day with exactly the same general classification time as Team Sunweb’s Jai Hindley, the first time that had ever happened in a Grand Tour.
The Brit sailed around the course, holding a ten-second lead on the Australian at the halfway mark and leading at every check point.
Hart clocked 18:19.40 for his time trial to end the 85-hour epic 39 seconds ahead of Hindley, with the stage won by Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Filippo Ganna.
“It was only when I was being screamed at not to take any risks in the final kilometre that I realised I was ahead,” he said.
“It’s not often you’re told to slow down that much in a 15km time trial, so I knew that work was done at that point. To arrive here in the centre of Milan is incredible.”
Sportsbeat 2020, lead image credit SWpix