Bradley Wiggins heaped praise on the “next superstar” Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) after he moved into a share of the overall lead at the Giro d’Italia by winning Stage 20.
Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) will start the final stage – a 16.5km individual time trial between Cernusco di Naviglio and Milan – in the leader’s maglia rosa, but only by milliseconds after another day of drama in Italy.
Geoghegan Hart again profited from teammate Rohan Dennis’ supreme domestique efforts in the mountains, which left overnight leader Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) wilting on the triple ascent of Sestriere.
And Wiggins believes the 25-year-old Brit will finish off the job in the Italian capital on Sunday.
- Geoghegan Hart wins Stage 20 thriller to set up time trial showdown with Hindley in pink
- Dennis felt 'a little bit average' before climbing masterclass
‘I’m going to tell him tonight’ - Wiggins urges Tao to win mind games in time trial
“Tao didn’t stop believing and I always knew he had it in him,” Wiggins said on The Breakaway.
“He’s proved his talent which we’ve all knew he had for years. He was always touted to do this and he’s on the verge of winning the Giro d’Italia, I still can’t quite get my head round it.
“It’s a done deal now for me, other than punctures or crashes. It’s hard to articulate it when you’ve watched someone come through the ranks and be so modest about their talent. He’s the next superstar.”
Wiggins: 'I love you, Tao'
Geoghegan Hart finished over a minute clear of Hindley on the most recent time trial on Stage 14, although the result was flipped on the opening stage ITT.
Wiggins said that he would get in touch with Geoghegan Hart and urge him to make the most of the psychological advantage of starting before Hindley, with tradition dictating that the race leader starts last.
“I think it’s worked out better for Tao. He doesn’t want to go off last tomorrow, there’s a psychological element to be had in that start pen,” said Wiggins.
“Jai’s got to sit their in pink and watch Tao go into the start house and go down the ramp.
“It’s quite a daunting thing going off last in the race, even though you’re in the leader’s jersey. You’ve got three minutes to sit in that chair while you watch Tao go down the road.
“I think Tao needs to make the most of that – I’m going to tell him tonight.
“It’s about the mental side of it now. We’ve had three weeks of racing, there’s nothing between them. It’s who has got it in them psychologically now.
“It’s nailed on for Tao, he’s just got to go through the process now and not get too distracted by the magnitude of what he’s about to achieve.”
Kelderman is technically still in the hunt but will require meltdowns from teammate Hindley and Geoghegan Hart, with the Dutchman 1:32 in arrears.
Dennis on his climbing exploits: ‘I was a little worried’