Tao Geoghegan Hart’s first season as a senior with the American Bissell Development team exposed him to a wide range of racing – from the under-23 Nations Cup races to the Tour of California. He only turned 19 at the end of March and even in the under-23 category can be up against riders who are three years old than him, and yet he didn’t look out of place anywhere.
At the end of the year he said he was still no clearer about what sort of rider he would turn out to be. Will the Classics or stage races suit him best? There’s no need to hurry in search of an answer because one thing is certain, he has the talent to succeed in whichever direction the sport takes him.
The streets of Hackney are not the obvious place to produce a bike rider. The nearby countryside is also not ideal for training so last winter he headed to Girona. The season started well, with a fine third place in the under-23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which secured him a place in Bissell’s line-up for the Tour of California. There he raced alongside Bradley Wiggins and Jens Voigt, who is more than twice his age.
Completing the Tour of California less than three months into a senior career should not be underestimated but it is interesting that Geoghegan Hart says he starts to feel good in races when they reach the 170 or 180 kilometre mark.
Tenth place overall in his first attempt at the Tour de l’Avenir bodes well for his remaining years at under-23 level. He finished 15th overall in the Tour of Britain and took a flyer – in a literal sense – on the run-in to Brighton at the end of the 220-kilometre longest stage of the race, which provided one of the iconic images of the British racing season as he catapulted into the barriers after overshooting a corner.
It’s unusual for a rider without a major victory to make the Cycling Weekly British Rider of the Year countdown but then it’s unusual for a 19-year-old to look so at home among such company in their first year as a senior.
We will be counting down the 20 best British riders of 2014 throughout December, with the top 10 published in the December 18 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine