Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Tao Geoghegan Hart is still only 26 years old. Whether it’s the fact that he’s already a winner of the grand tour, having triumphed in that extraordinary Giro d’Italia last fall, or the way he speaks – mature, thoughtful, unafraid to tackle politically sensitive issues – the Londoner looks older. of his years.
The truth is that Geoghegan Hart is still relatively inexperienced. At least in terms of a grand tour. The upcoming Tour de France, which kicks off in Brest next Saturday, will be Geoghegan Hart’s first attempt at the biggest cycling race and only the fifth major lap of his career. No wonder he admits he feels a thrill of youthful excitement at the prospect of ticking what is a dream for any young driver off the bucket list.
“There aren’t many things you are really looking forward to in your career, but this is definitely one of them,” he says. “And I think I just read this afternoon, that among the rest of the guys they have 46 Tours, which is crazy. So yeah, what a privilege to be in the midst of so much experience.”
The exact role Geoghegan Hart will play for Ineos Grenadiers is unclear. The British team was a little shy in their press release on Friday when they confirmed the lineup, with team principal Sir Dave Brailsford only saying he wanted his team to continue to field the more “open and aggressive style of racing.” “who have adopted this season adding we should” expect the unexpected “.
Most observers believe the team will be led by Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz, however, with Geoghegan Hart and Richie Porte the next two taxis off the standings, supporting but also looking to stay there in the overall standings so as to offer more playing cards.
Geoghegan Hart does not argue with this analysis. “I think definitely, if you look at how Geraint and Richard have been riding over the past month, I think it’s a fair guess to make,” he says. “I wouldn’t agree with that.” The truth is, however, that anything can happen. Just think of the Giro last fall when Geoghegan Hart was not among the top 30 favorites but suddenly found himself leading the team after Thomas’ accident and made the most of it. The fact is, the Ineos Grenadiers have three Grand Tour winners in their ranks, plus the recent Critérium du Dauphiné winner at Richie Porte. Any of them could theoretically be in a position to do something, especially if the team keeps Brailsford’s promise to “take the lead” and “seize every opportunity” that presents itself to them.
“You can make all the plans you want, but I think we all know the plans go out the window once the race starts,” says Geoghegan Hart. “We just have to see how each situation develops and go step by step, step by step. The first few days will be mentally difficult. There will be a lot of carnage no doubt. Probably even a little more than usual since Brittany and the type of competitions there.
“Then of course you have the TT [time trial] and after that there will undoubtedly be quite a lot of GCs [general classification] guys already out of the race and the Tour hasn’t started yet. They’re just grand tour rides, aren’t they? “
Geoghegan Hart – who cites usual suspects Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) as Ineos Grenadiers’ main rivals, while naming Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) and Miguel Ángel López (Movistar) as dark horses – he hopes to stay safe and upright throughout. As if the prospect of his first Tour weren’t exciting enough, he has the sizeable prize of a ticket to Tokyo and a trip to his first Olympic Games awaiting him at the finish.
Understandably, Geoghegan Hart doesn’t want to get ahead of himself – one thing at a time – but promises to be quite a summer, although he’s not sure exactly what form he is in, having taken a couple of weeks off -Ardennes in an attempt to keep cool for the last part of the stretch.
“I wouldn’t say I felt in my best shape ever at Dauphiné,” he says. “But I hope I have timed well. We will see how it goes. I can’t wait to race with the guys anyway.
“I just want to get up there now, I’m sure it will be a mess a few days before the start of the race. I just need to keep my head down and feel good and relaxed and I can’t wait for everything from the biggest race in the world to come. “