George Bennett is set to finish in eighth place at the Giro d'Italia.

Barring disaster on the final 115 kilometre flat ceremonial sprint stage, Bennett will ride into Rome and achieve New Zealand cycling history.

No Kiwi has ever finished in the top 10 at the Giro, while eighth overall would be the best Grand Tour result accomplished by a New Zealand rider, eclipsing Bennett's 10th at the Vuelta a Espana in 2016.

Despite those laudable honours, Bennett is not entirely overjoyed by his efforts. He wanted more at the Giro - a top five finish, or a stage win perhaps, but a combination of bad luck and not quite being in his best form cut short those hopes.


Although noting his high expectations, Bennett still deserves major plaudits - five years ago, the thought of a New Zealander finishing eighth in a Grand Tour would have been absurd, and the fact that it could now even be seen in some circles as a slight disappointment is a huge credit to Bennett's rise.

He will cross the line in Rome 13 minutes and 17 seconds behind overall victor Chris Froome, who - barring a crash or mechanical problem - sealed his first Giro title and third consecutive Grand Tour victory.

Froome, who made his decisive move yesterday, easily fended off a late barrage of attacks from Tom Dumoulin on stage 20, extending his lead to 46 seconds. The penultimate stage consisted of three difficult climbs, and after navigating the first two with little dramas, Dumoulin launched his all-or-nothing effort with nine kilometres to go on the final climb.

His first attack immediately split the final 12 riders into two groups, with Bennett in the second group, and he kept firing - four attacks in total, but Froome countered them all, and even launched a brief attack of his own to prove his dominance.

In the end, Dumoulin conceded, and the leaders crossed the line together, 6.03 behind breakaway stage winner Mikel Nieve, who claimed a fifth Giro stage victory for Mitchelton-Scott.

Bennett rolled home 42 seconds later, doing enough to secure eighth overall. He jumped up one spot from yesterday, after the remarkable collapse of Thibaut Pinot.

Pinot, who was in third overall, looked on track for his first Giro podium finish, before he cracked with 41.1 kilometres to go. Much like the unfortunate Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates before him, the Frenchman could barely push the pedals, and ended up losing a staggering 45 minutes.

Pinot's loss was Bennett's gain, and all going to plan, he will cruise home in Rome tomorrow with another slice of New Zealand cycling history.


Niall Anderson is covering every stage of the Giro d'Italia live for the Herald. One more to go before this crazy idea comes to a close.
Niall's Giro d'Italia wraps
Stage nineteen
Stage eighteen
Stage seventeen
Stage sixteen
Stage fifteen
Stage fourteen
Stage thirteen
Stage twelve
Stage eleven
Stage ten
Stage nine
Stage eight
Stage seven
Stage six
Stage five
Stage four
Stage three
Stage two
Stage one