Such is the promise already shown by Tao Geoghegan Hart, the general consensus is that it’s a matter of when, rather than if, he will make the step up to WorldTour level.
The 20-year-old rose to the senior ranks last year and is currently in his second season with the Axeon team (formerly the Bissell Development team) run by Axel Merckx. Last season he mixed encouraging U23 results such as 3rd at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and 10th at the Tour de l’Avenir with eye-catching displays alongside the established pros, like at the Tour of Britain where he was 15th overall. It is something he has built on this year, with another U23 Liège podium and a hugely impressive 13th overall at the 2.HC Tour of California, where he was fifteenth on the mountain stage.
Amid the growing expectation, Geoghegan Hart is resolutely refusing to rest on his laurels and is resisting any pressure or temptation to get ahead of himself.
“At the moment, you never reach an end goal, there’s a lot of learning to be done,” he told Cyclingnews during the British road championships weekend in Lincolnshire.
“My early season was pretty good, Liège was an OK result, California was certainly a step up from last year, with the experience of being an out and out team leader, in terms of developing, learning how that works and being up there in GC of a big race.”
Whatever future plans may take shape, Geoghegan Hart is concentrating on living in the moment, extracting the most out of each minute spent on the bike, and making himself as complete a rider as possible.
“That [the WorldTour] is always the goal so it remains that until a time where it settles at that," he said. "Ultimately I just have to focus on the racing. I don’t want to set myself unattainable goals that may or may not happen so it’s just about keeping it realistic, focusing on the racing, and on life. Not getting caught up with things that may or may not happen, I think that’s a dangerous pastime.
"Every race is an opportunity to show yourself. That’s how I try to approach it - try to get something out of every race, whether that’s working for a teammate or trying to get a result for yourself. It’s important not to go to races just to ride round or just be there, I don’t see any gain from that."
Geoghegan Hart secured bronze in the rolling 33.6km U23 time trial at the British nationals on Thursday and will rub shoulders with the elite men in the road race on Sunday, which features cobbled climbs aplenty in the Lincoln Grand Prix-inspired finishing circuit.
Despite the one medal already, he came into the nationals on the back of illness and is just trying to see himself through to a mid-season break, after which he will adjust his focus to August and September with races such as the Tour of Britain, Tour of Utah, and the U23 world championships.
It remains to be seen exactly what kind of a rider Geoghegan Hart will develop into over the course of the rest of the season and beyond. He’s strong on the flat and on the climbs and has previously indicated that the longer the stages the better he fares compared to those around him.
“I’d like to be a GC rider, or that type of all rounder who can be used in those situations,” he said. “I was quite disappointed with Paris-Roubaix a few weeks ago, I was in the front group until the last three of four sectors where I was caught up in a big crash and that was the end of my chances of getting a result. I kind of wanted to go into that race to show I can be versatile and I can be a rider that can be utilised in different scenarios, so that was disappointing.
“It’s just a continuous thing, trying to be as multi-dimensional as possible.”