Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) and Axel Merckx are on the cusp of announcing the rider for the stagiaire position on Hagens Berman Axeon and will break the news in the next few days.
In June applications were opened for the role with Geoghegan Hart – a graduate from Merckx’s U23 team – agreeing to sponsor a spot that was created in order to open pathways for riders and improve cultural and racial diversity within the sport of cycling.
According to Merckx, roughly a dozen strong applications were received with the team balancing out a number of factors before deciding on their selection.
“We had about a dozen applications and they were good. It was an interesting process and both Tao and I are really excited about the programme that’s coming up. It’s going to be great,” Merckx told Cyclingnews.
“We were looking at the applications that came in and discussed them with Tao. We made it all fair and hopefully it’s going to be a great success for the rider and the team. Their contract starts August 1 and we’ll decide soon on the races that the rider will do for their schedule. I can’t give anything else away until the announcement is made. We want to give this rider an opportunity and it’s hopefully going to beneficial for them.”
Since winning the Giro d'Italia last autumn, Geoghegan Hart has made several public statements about the lack of diversity within the sport. He took the knee in March this year and announced at the time that he would sponsor the stagiaire position at Merckx’s team, where he rode as a U23 rider before graduating to the professional ranks and signing with Team Sky/Ineos Grenadiers.
On the eve of the Tour de France, the rider was asked about his choice to use social media to support and advocate on behalf of a number of topics, such as equality, diversity and the LGBTQ+ community.
"In my case, I have my very, very tiny ability and power to do something like sending a social media message or speaking out about something," he said at the time. "You still have that chance, so why would you not take it, in my opinion?
“When I look around at the likes of Dina Asher-Smith, who I went to the youth Olympics with, or Marcus Rashford, all of these young sportspeople who are often engaged with the local communities that they grew up in, that resonates the most.”
Hagens Berman Axeon currently have 13 riders on their books and the team have several major races coming up in Europe during August and September.
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