George Bennett rode up the Monte Zoncolan twice on stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia, the first time attempting to win the stage for Jumbo-Visma and the second time to thank team-mate Edoardo Affini for his efforts in the breakaway to deliver the New Zealander to the bottom of the final climb.
"Shout out to the big dog Edoardo Affini for carrying the breakaway all day yesterday," Bennett said after the stage. "Gutted not to pull it off in the end, there just wasn’t much left in the legs after that start. I will have nightmares of 200km full steam into a headwind for the rest of my life."
Bennett finished seventh, 2-10 down on stage winner Lorenzo Fortunato (EOLO-Kometa) after not being unable to follow the Italian and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Victorious) who attacked the breakaway on the finishing climb.
The New Zealand road race champion started making his way back down the mountain after finishing, then coming across his team-mate Affini who had blown up earlier after driving the pace in the breakaway in order to try and set Bennett up for the stage victory.
Photographer Jered Gruber captured the moment, Affini with his arm around Bennett, wrapped up in a jacket and towel that he'd collected from the finish line after riding up the snow-banked climb.
A photo posted by on
"My real highlight of today was watching George Bennett descend back to the bus after the finish - only to come back into view moments later. He turned around and started riding back up the Zoncolan with his teammate, Edoardo Affini," Gruber wrote on Instagram.
"I don’t know what was said, but anyone who turns around and rides back up that thing for even one second to share some words with a team-mate is a hero in my book."
It's not known how far up the climb Bennett made it, but if he made it to the top he could have faced a fine from the UCI for crossing the finish line twice.
Bennett currently sits 18th in the GC, nearly 12 minutes behind Egan Bernal, having lost time in the opening week of the Italian Grand Tour.
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