MALDON-born Alex Dowsett rode into Milan and brought his 2020 Giro d’Italia to a successful ending with his fourth top-20 stage finish of the three-week Grand Tour, writes GORDON WISEMAN.

The Israel Start-Up Nation pro bike racer, now a three-time ‘Giri’ finisher, was in fine form in the final week’s racing.

Dowsett added to his brilliant stage eight win with a top-ten finish in Friday’s final ‘sprinters’ stage before finishing in 17th place in Sunday’s 15.7km time-trial at the foot of the iconic Duomo di Milano.

As is often the case with recent editions of the Giro, the organisers had back-loaded the final week’s racing with some massive, mountainous kilometres meaning ‘testers’ like Doswett had to measure his pace effectively and use all his racing nous if he was to make it to the finish in the country’s second city.

Friday’s stage – that was meant to be raced over 258km – was sandwiched between two mountain stages that each climbed more than 5000 metres and, even though considered to be a ‘flat’ stage, was eventually cut short due to the horrendous rain that would have welcomed the remaining 133 competitors.

A small mercy after all they’d already endured.

On a stage where the focus was to have been on the team’s sprinter Davide Cimolai, things didn’t all go as had been planned.

Dowsett said: “There was a group of riders who went away straight from the gun and I just rode a hard pace in order to bring the bunch back up.

"At least that was the plan, but then I was suddenly there, in the break-away."

Dowsett used a similar situation to his advantage in winning stage eight but this time he wasn’t quite as successful.

“The escapees started to attack each other with around 25 kilometres to go.

“I followed two moves which were not successful and then it was the third move that did get a gap.

“I felt strong, but I just did not have the aggressive attack. I was 100 per cent committed to get the guys back, and not to sprint for sixth.”

But his final placing of tenth was more than a just reward for his efforts.

“It went right in stage eight, but it was not meant to be today. However, it was nice to be in the break-away and race for the victory, even though I was not fully meant to.”

After catching his breath, on Saturday the 32-year-old Dowsett had to really battle hard to hold his place in the race over the three ascents of the exhausting climb into Sestriere.

The resort is better known to many as being one of Italy’s top ski resorts, using all his recovery powers to then be fully focussed for Sunday’s closing time trial.

As with the other two TTs included in this year’s Giro route, Dowsett was closely matched by his co-stage eight break-away partner Matthias Brändle.

But this time, riding over the distance that the Essex rider first made his name in when riding as a youngster in the colours of the local Maldon CC, Dowsett had the upper hand to claim 17th place – and top Israel Start-Up finisher - by just a handful of seconds over his Austrian team-mate.

After a Covid-19 shortened season – with all its emotional and physically draining pressures - Doswett now gets ready for a winter break.

His next race is likely to be the highly-charged rush to the local maternity wing in January where he and his partner Channel will be looking forward to welcoming their first child before turning his hand to preparing for his biggest racing goal of 2021, his hoped-for participation in the Tokyo Olympics.