Tao Geoghegan Hart is set to target general classification at the Tour de France in 2024 for his new team, Lidl-Trek, it was announced on Tuesday.
The Londoner has joined the American squad from Ineos Grenadiers, with whom he turned professional in 2017, and will head to the Tour as a leader for the first time, alongside Mads Pedersen, who will target stage wins.
The 28-year-old won the Giro d'Italia in 2020, and after a quiet couple of years, he looked back at his best this year, winning the Tour of the Alps, and coming third at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
“It felt like the race hadn’t really begun and I was holding back,” he said in an interview with The Times last month. “It was what we’d spoken about since January: the only thing that was going to matter was the last three stages and that it would flip on its head, which transpired... That’s probably the only regret I have. I just didn’t feel like I’d really shown what was in the tank.”
He said he lost two to three units of blood in internal bleeding following the accident, and spent a long time recovering at a specialist centre in Amsterdam.
Geoghegan Hart will make his debut in Lidl-Trek colours at the Volta ao Algarve, if everything goes to plan, after his lengthy recovering from his serious accident.
He also took to social media on Tuesday to say goodbye to the team he has spent seven years with, noting that thanks to his accident he hasn't seen most riders or staff since March or April. He thanked them for their support, with Ineos and Lidl-Trek both providing resources towards his recovery.
"There are no perfect goodbyes in cycling," Geoghegan Hart wrote on Twitter and Instagram. "Often there are no goodbyes at all. Most of the Ineos Grenadiers riders and staff I haven't seen since March or April. In professional cycling we aren't afforded a moment to say thank you or to look back on what we've done. That's just the sport, and perhaps a good metaphor for life. People come and go. They are taken from us unexpectedly every day.
"We picture a perfect way to say goodbye, but it rarely goes quite as we expect. A rider's time in a team seems to almost fizzle out in the winter months, overshadowed by news of new adventures and the future.
"The world keeps moving forward. In cycling there isn't a clear moment to step from the past to the future, it's a gradual and mostly unseen change, that has been a new experience for me. Midnight on New Year's Eve, when our contracts change, is hardly the moment to think about starting a new job. I'm jealous of the way in which other professional athletes can say goodbye to their teams and sponsors before they move on to their next chapter."
"And so since no perfect time exists, it's time today to say goodbye to the team that's been my home since 2016," he continued. "It's a goodbye with a h(e)art full of amazing memories, knowledge and rich experiences. Having had the chance to work with so many great people has been a privilege.
"I'm especially grateful for the organisation's support during my extensive rehab this year. If I look back at all these photos, the journey from my first training camp with the team in 2014 has been incredibly fulfilling. Thankyou to all the equipment partners and fans too.
"I couldn't be more grateful for all your support. It makes the difference when searching for a raison d'etre in this tricky world of 2023. So arrivederci to all my Ineos Grenadiers colleagues of this season and those of the last years too. Thankyou for all your hard work and companionship, I'll see you at the races soon."
Lidl-Trek also announced that Giulio Ciccone would lead the squad at the Giro, alongside Andrea Bagioli, Jonathan Milan and Jasper Stuyven, while Mattias Skjelmose would be the GC leader at the Vuelta a España.
Milan, Pedersen and Stuyven will form the core of Lidl-Trek's men's Classics squad, while Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini and Elisa Balsamo will do the same for the women's team.
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