In the sixth part of a 12-part series, we relive the most memorable images of the sporting year with the people who were there. Scroll to the bottom for the full collection.
Tao Geoghegan Hart began this year’s Giro d’Italia as a domestique for Geraint Thomas, not even among the top 20 or 30 favourites for the race. Thomas’s crash on stage three meant the Londoner assumed Ineos leadership and he rose steadily from then on, winning two stages in what was an enthralling final week to claim the pink jersey for the first time on the very last stage, a time trial in Milan.
He admits the post-race victory ceremony in an empty Piazza del Duomo on Sunday, Oct 25 was both memorable and strange. “I remember lifting that trophy – it was surprisingly heavy and springy – and smashing it against the podium roof,” he says. “The empty square down below was definitely not how I had ever pictured celebrating winning a big race.
“In 2010, aged 15, I raced in mainland Europe for the first time, in the Flanders region of Belgium. The racing was intense, another level from that of the UK, but the main attraction was the crowds. Even for a ‘nieuwelingen’ [youth] race, there felt like a crazy amount of people out on the road supporting us. Yet here I was, the biggest victory of my somewhat fledgling career, stood in front of the spectacular Gothic Duomo di Milano, with not even a man and his dog to cheer me.
“Looking at this photo makes me realise how privileged we were. Not only to have raced in the first place, especially given Italy had suffered so badly in the Covid pandemic, but to have done so with the fans along the road. The tifosi are incredible, outside and in mostly incredible weather for all of the 2,000 miles and 85 hours of racing.
“For me, this is cycling; the fans, the scenery, the great outdoors; mountains, coastlines and everything in between. A sport that covers the length and breadth of a country in one race. A sport that somehow managed to provide distraction from all the complication of this virus- stricken year, in a moment it was perhaps needed most, the winter looming, second waves, lockdown two and all.
“Obviously I had none of my family there for the celebration, but I was lucky my team-mates and all the Ineos staff managed to get into the Duomo square at that moment. They were all screaming and cheering and they were the only people that mattered.
“I remember smiling when I had the trophy, but obviously I had my mask on. I thought, ‘Hang on, I might well be seeing these photos for the rest of my life’. So I decided to quickly take off my mask and share my smile with all the people who had made this happen.
“We will remember 2020 in many ways, positively and negatively, and this moment is just one of many incredible memories as I look to 2021 with hope, excitement and anticipation.”