It will understandably take Tao Geoghegan Hart some time to let his remarkable Giro d’Italia victory sink in, but what it means for his career going forward he’s made clear is the last thing on his mind.
“I don’t know and I don’t really care. I’m just going to enjoy this, it’s incredible, really really incredible,” the 25-year-old responded when asked the inevitable question of whether this was just the start of a special career as he becomes the latest Ineos rider to win a Grand Tour.
“I’m going to stay the same person, stay as professional as I always have been, dedicated, waking up every day looking forward to riding my bike and loving my life. And being grateful for the honour and the amazing position and privilege that I’m in to be in this position on this team in this beautiful race.”
Geoghegan Hart was expected to beat Jai Hindley in the final time trial in Milan, which he duly did, taking 39 seconds out of the 24-year-old Australian to separate them in the GC, having gone into stage 21 equal on time.
“I have no idea what I should say but yeah…look at this it’s spectacular,” he said, the Duomo in Milan providing the backdrop to a dream day for the East Londoner. “[It’s been] an incredible three weeks. I didn’t believe this was possible this morning but here we are, wow.”
Having won stage 20 to bring him level on time with Hindley, Geoghegan Hart says he was initially relaxed about the possibility of overall victory, but that nerves only started creeping in the morning before he was set to roll off the start ramp.
“Last night I felt really relaxed…this morning I had that strange two hours in the room on my own, trying not to overthink it, just listening to some good music and stuff, but that was the only moment where it was sinking in,” he explained. “Otherwise, it was a pretty simple TT, just go through the process and whatever happened, happened.”
Luckily, Geoghegan Hart had two mentors and Tour de France champions on hand to offer him a bit of advice as to how you close out a Grand Tour victory.
“Brad [Wiggins] gave me super advice to just focus on myself and the process, however boring that sounds,” Geoghegan Hart said. “Same with G [Thomas], he sent me a super nice text last night and those are guys I’ve looked up to near enough half of my life, they’re the ones who’ve inspired me to get here.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine this would be possible when we started almost a month ago in Sicily. I think for all of my career I’ve dreamed of being top five, or top 10 maybe, in a race of this stature. This is something utterly different to that and I think it’s going to take a long time to sink in.”
During his time trial effort, Geoghegan Hart knew he had maybe a few seconds advantage during the majority of his ride, but that it was when his sports director told him to make sure he didn’t fall off that he knew he’d done it.
“My DS said I was 10 seconds up and then he kept giving me a few seconds…I only really knew we were in a pretty good situation when he was screaming at me not to take any risks in the last kilometre,” Geoghegan Hart explained. “It’s not often that your DS tells you to slow down that much in a 15km TT but I also knew the work was done up to that point.”
Hailing from Hackney in East London, Geoghegan Hart hopes his achievement doesn’t necessarily inspire other young Londoners to take up cycling, but simply to dream big.
“I would love to see more cycling as a sport in London, more diversity in cycling, which can come from increasing the sport in popularity in cities like London. I hope I can inspire a few kids from Hackney to dream big even if it’s not in cycling.”
As for tonight, Ineos and Geoghegan Hart will do their best to celebrate while adhering to the coronavirus restrictions.
“I think there’s a curfew from 11.30pm tonight so we’ll see what happens, we’re not going to break any Covid-19 rules though.”