Tao delighted to step up at the Dauphine

14 Jun 2018

Tao delighted to step up at the Dauphine

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When Tao Geoghegan Hart hit the front on stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine and drove the pace on the final climb, it was clear that he had carried over the form that saw him finish fifth overall at the Tour of California, riding in support of winner Egan Bernal.

Then, when he performed the same eye-catching role on stages five, six and seven in the Alps, closing down attacks as Geraint Thomas’ last man in the mountains, it showed a man who has stepped up again since that impressive week of racing in the sunshine state.

Was the 23 year old expecting to ride as well as he did at what he describes as the biggest stage race he’d ridden so far?

“No, I really wasn’t expecting that,” said Geoghegan Hart, speaking to TeamSky.com the morning after Geraint Thomas sealed the yellow jersey in Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. “I knew the legs were good going into the race. I was confident I could move on and step up from California and I think I did that.

“I was already riding pretty well over in the States, but it’s different. There’s less accumulative fatigue there because you don’t really get those big, big days - especially not back-to-back. It’s more like one summit finish or two climbs in a day. The Dauphine is a different kettle of fish and I would say the biggest race I’ve done so far.

“I’m really happy to come out of it in a good place and deliver on what the team expected - and maybe even have exceed those expectations on a couple of days.”
Thomas was full of praise for Geoghegan Hart's efforts all week

Thomas was full of praise for Geoghegan Hart's efforts all week

The Brit, racing in just his second year as a professional, secured an impressive 13th place overall after his efforts in support of winner Thomas, and clearly relished the week of racing at the highest level, surrounded by an experienced group of teammates.

“It’s one of the biggest races of the year,” he continued. “We knew going into it that G was in a really good place which makes it easier from a support point of view. You just know that you’ve got to support that guy in every way you can.

“Michal [Kwiatkowski] winning the prologue was a really nice way to start the week. We took a lot of confidence from having everyone in the top 50 or so of that and it was nice to take that form into the team time trial, knowing that we were all going pretty well.  There was definitely no weak links in the team.”
After Kwiatkowski won the prologue the team won the TTT in style, besting nearest rivals BMC by 38 seconds, putting the Pole back in the yellow jersey after he had ceded it to Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) on stage two.

Gianni Moscon then climbed into the race lead on stage four, before Thomas surged to second the following day and moved into yellow. 

“I think that’s pretty special to have the jersey between three guys,” added Geoghegan Hart. “The feeling around the team was really good. We started well and we carried that momentum. When you’re in that place as a team, the mishaps we had, like the punctures G had yesterday, you take them a lot more in your stride. You roll over what could be big upsets in the plan a lot more smoothly.”

After a crash during the prologue it appeared Thomas has seen off all of his bad luck for the Dauphine but a puncture on a key descent midway through the final stage could have been disastrous.

Geoghegan Hart didn’t panic: “When you’re in the moment you often don’t really realise that it’s such a big gap. I knew it was about 30 seconds and there was quite a few times where we could see the group up the road so that made it a bit less nerve-wracking. It never feels quite so far when you can see the group.

“In hindsight the team did a good job of just communicating and not panicking in the moment, which is really easy to do. That was one of the big things for me, being around that group of all the guys that are going for the Tour. The experience of guys like G, Luke, Michal, the more you’re around in those situations the more you learn.”
Tao Geoghegan Hart

Tao Geoghegan Hart

I’ve got a bit of time at home over the next couple of weeks which is nice - last night was my first night in my apartment for two months!
After a late flight back from the Dauphine, Tao enjoyed sleeping in his own bed for the first time in two months. Now rest and recuperation is on his agenda, before tackling the national championships at the end of June.

“I’ll do the nationals next and I’m not sure after that. I’m setting my eyes on having a good second half of the season. I’ve got a bit of time at home over the next couple of weeks which is nice - last night was my first night in my apartment for two months! It was nice to come back here and know I’ll be here for a while.

“I can have a reset, look back over the first part of the year, and take that into the end of July, August and September.”

Tao’s 2018 ambition was to tackle a Grand Tour and he remains on track to make his bow at La Vuelta a Espana.

“Personally that’s a big ambition, to get my first Grand Tour done. There are a few stages of La Vuelta that are not that far away from home - I’ve been living in Spain for the last five years now so it would be quite cool to start with La Vuelta.

“It’s a big goal of mine but it’s a long way away from now and I know that a few extra days of recovery at this time of the year can make a big difference then. I’ll be really focused on going into the second half of the season as fresh as possible, both physically and mentally, and trying to step up again from the last couple of months.”
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