Dave Brailsford could hardly contain himself as he was introduced on Eurosport by Bernie Eisel after Tao Geoghegan Hart had secured victory at the Giro d’Italia, throwing his arms around his former rider in celebration before giving us the Davey B post-match analysis of how the 2020 Giro unfolded.
“When we started out Geraint was the leader, and when you think about what happened here, Filippo [Ganna] set the scene. Coming with the rainbow bands, got the TT sorted, got the pink jersey, then a massive disappointment Geraint going home,” Brailsford began, of Ineos’ rollercoaster first few days at the 2020 Italian Grand Tour.
“Filippo won that road stage in the hills everybody was like ‘wow…that’s an incredible performance’. That inspired everybody and we thought you know what guys let’s just open the race up, everybody race for stages, give everybody an opportunity, and Tao just follow everyone on GC.
“And I think he liked that, he grew into the role, there was no pressure on him, it was an adventure every day, he was getting better and better.”
Brailsford gives deserved credit to Rohan Dennis, who successfully dispatched Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman over the two tough mountain days in the final week, to leave Geoghegan Hart with just Jai Hindley to deal with in securing the maglia rosa.
“Rohan Dennis has to have a mention in this because he was unbelievable here. However, I would say for Tao there was a moment in this race when he switched from being ‘maybe, maybe, maybe’ to ‘I can do this’. He’s a geezer at the end of the day. Him and Bradley Wiggins, London has something about it.”
The 56-year-old then recalled the Hollywood-ready story of how his latest British Grand Tour champion bunked off school to attend the Team Sky launch a decade ago.
“The story I like about Tao is that when we started the team he bunked off school to ride behind the other guys, dreaming of being a pro and now coming into the team and winning a Grand Tour. It’s the stuff of comic books really,” Brailsford said.
As for how his team went about winning the race, Brailsford cherished the fact they did it with attacking racing, rather than the defensive, Ineos-train style that viewers have grown used to at Grand Tours over the last decade.
“What I like about this is we’ve done the train, the defensive style of riding, won a lot doing that, but it’s not much fun compared to this.
“The sport is about racing, the emotion, the exhilarating moments and that’s where we want to be.”
Brailsford saved his last words for the man missing from their celebrations. Nico Portal.
“A lot of people have contributed to this victory, and we can’t think about that without thinking about Nico. Everybody in this team has supported Tao along the way and we can’t forget that.”