Tao Geoghegan Hart played down suggestions he could lead Ineos Grenadiers at the fast-approaching Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, and said he does not consider himself a favourite amongst the other potential challengers.
After finishing fourth on stage three of the Tour of the Alps behind German Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), the British rider retained his overall lead.
Speaking in a post-race press conference, Geoghegan Hart said he would be just one of many “pieces in the puzzle” for Ineos at the upcoming Italian Grand Tour.
“100%, I’m not going there as a favourite,” Geoghegan Hart said. “We have a lot of top riders in the team, also with their own ambitions for that race… I’m looking forward to it though, and I’m sure it’s going to be a beautiful start in the Grande Partenza in Pescara.”
“In the end the first week of a Grand Tour is a success when you come out the other side with everything intact, and without a trip to the hospitals.”
Despite finding form at just the right time- already taking two stage victories in the Alps – Geoghegan Hart explained that he wouldn’t be getting carried away, and that he felt it was a “dangerous game” to only validate a performance by the result.
“There’s been many great riders that have never won a race in their entire career,” he said. “I think there is of course some validation from winning, without a doubt. But now in the last years of cycling, we’ve seen less and less riders winning, it’s more often the same guys winning.”
“For me personally, it’s been two years without victory before this February…many times I rode for the other guys in those two years, and I was part of some really big wins,” Geoghegan Hart added. “It’s really nice that the wind has turned in my favour… it’s not like I’m going anything drastically different, but it takes so many things to fall into place to succeed in this sport.”
“We see it every year that the level is getting higher and higher. For example the level is much higher here than it was in 2019.”
As the 2023 Tour of the Alps moves into its closing stages, Geoghegan Hart is likely to face an ever increasing threat from the likes of Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) and Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious). The duo sit 22 and 28 seconds from the overall lead respectively.
However, the Londoner explained that he believes that with the togetherness, and unity within the Ineos camp, anything is possible.
“I think that energy is more important than anything,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade those moments and that feeling with your teammates for any results. We spend so much time on the road together, and more importantly the staff spend even more time on the road together… they feed off that and feel that.”
“It’s very important and many of us have raced together for a long time… all of us grew up idolising Swifty [Ben Swift] and Geraint [Thomas], so it’s special to have a good group together, and you pass the tricky days when they eventually arrive much easier.”