Tao Geoghegan Hart dedicated his first ever Grand Tour stage to Nicolas Portal, who passed away earlier this year.
Ineos Grenadiers have had to come to terms the sudden and unexpected loss of their long-standing sports director Portal, who died after suffering a heart attack in March.
British rider Geoghegan Hart took his biggest career win on stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia in Piancavallo, outsprinting pink jersey favourite Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), and paid tribute to Portal at the finish.
The 25-year-old said: “Everyone knows what a great influence Nico Portal had on the team and for me in particular.
“Everyday we ride, we are remembering him.”
Ineos Grenadiers have been the dominant stage-winning force in the 2020 Giro d’Italia, taking five of the 15 stages so far with three different riders.
The squad have won both time trials with Italian star Filippo Ganna, while Ganna and Jhonatan Narváez have both one road stages, and Geoghegan Hart’s mountain summit victory means the team have won a third of the stages on offer.
But the team were forced to reset after they their GC leader Geraint Thomas crashed out on stage three.
Geoghegan Hart said: “I can’t believe it, we have had a really tough Giro to date after losing Geraint Thomas, but this team is extraordinary and we are all showing what we’re capable of stage by stage.”
Stage 15 was also the first time the GC race exploded in this year’s Giro, as Kelderman emerged as the strongest on the final climb and very nearly took the pink jersey from Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Joao Almeida.
After losing time Almeida, who is now just 15 seconds ahead of Kelderman, said: “It was a very hard stage, the three riders on the front on the final climb were too fast for me. I know my body and my limits, so I had to drop back. I’m happy to have managed to save the maglia rosa, once again thanks to my team.”