Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ineos Grenadiers’ overall victory at the 2020 Giro d’Italia has also led to a career achievement for Rohan Dennis who said he has always wanted to part of a Grand Tour-winning team.
The Australian played a pivotal role in the team’s overall success and said he was delighted to see his teammate Geoghegan Hart end up with the overall victory on the finale stage 21 time trial in Milan.
"It was a big personal goal of mine to be part of a Grand Tour-winning team," Dennis said after the time trial in a post-race interview.
Dennis started his WorldTour career in 2013 with Garmin Sharp but spent most of his career racing with the former BMC Racing team between 2014 and 2018. He transferred to Bahrain Merida last year before being released and then moving over to Ineos Grenadiers for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
He has won stages and worn the leaders’ jerseys in all three Grand Tours, but said that he gave up his personal Grand Tour ambitions when he signed a contract for Ineos Grenadiers, instead moving into a domestique role for the three-week races.
Ineos Grenadiers went into the Giro d’Italia with an initial plan of working for race leader Geraint Thomas. An unfortunate crash during the neutral start on stage 3 resulted in Thomas abandoning the race with a fractured hip, however, forcing the team to adjust their goals for the remainder of the race.
"Honestly, if we are going to be completely blunt, when Geraint [Thomas] crashed out I thought, 'OK, maybe at another Grand Tour’, but Tao has been absolutely amazing. He helped me achieve one of the goals that I set out to do in my career and I couldn’t be happier for him."
Ineos Grenadiers made a remarkable pivot by winning seven stages, the overall title and the best team classification a the Giro d’Italia.
Filippo Ganna won all three time trials on stage 1 in Palermo, stage 14 in Valdobbiadene and the stage 21 finale in Milan, along with the mountainous stage 5 in Camigliatello Silano, while Jhonatan Narváez won stage 12 into Cesenatico.
Geoghegan Hart took double stage wins on stage 15 atop Piancavallo and stage 20 atop Sestriere, before winning the overall title on the final day. Dennis played a crucial role assisting Geoghegan Hart on the key mountains stages, even winning the event’s Cima Coppi prize that was awarded to the first rider over the race's highest point on the Stelvio during stage 18 this year.
"It's difficult when people say I'm not a team player because I give everything for the team when I can," Dennis said following that stage at Laghi di Cancano.
Ineos also took home the best overall team classification for their efforts finishing ahead of Deceuninck-QuickStep and Team Sunweb.
Ben Swift said the team didn’t initially set out to win the overall classification with Geoghegan Hart or the best team classification but that he was proud of his team’s ability to change ambitions and shift their focus once they lost Thomas on stage 3.
"It was pretty incredible and anyone who was close to our bus when we were doing a countdown [during the final time trial], you could see what it meant to us. We never expected to be in this position," said Ben Swift in a post-race interview in Milan.
"Hats off to Tao to show what he’s done. The way that the team rode was incredible. We changed our ambitions; we instead went for stage wins and we got seven of them, we animated most stages with seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, everything across the board, and team GC, so it’s pretty incredible."
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