Tao Geoghegan Hart played the role of the consummate teammate at the Tour of the Alps, giving his all to help Pavel Sivakov defend his leader's cyclamen-coloured jersey on the final stage to Bolzano so that Team Sky could sign off with a final stage race victory, and will now head to Liege-Bastogne-Liege to support team leaders Michal Kwiatkowski and Wout Poels.
The 24-year-old won two stages this week – the first professional victories of his career, but despite finishing second overall at 27 seconds, he measures his success more profoundly and is looking ahead to riding just as well at the Giro d'Italia and in the years to come.
He is not even interested in payback from Sivakov for his hard work.
"I don't believe in that, that's what teammates are for. At the end of the day, it was my job, if I was in the same situation then I'm sure he would've done the same, indeed I know he would've done the same," the 24-year-old Londoner explained.
"He'll probably pay me back in the weeks ahead, let alone the years ahead. I'm sure we have a long career together as teammates, I hope we do. Let's keep doing this, it's a lot of fun."
Geoghegan Hart was the last Team Sky rider to stay with Sivakov after the testing 9.5km San Genesio climb overlooking Bolzano. Leonardo Basso, Kenny Elissonde, Salvatore Puccio and then Chris Froome did what they could to bring Claudio Masnada (Androni Giocattoli) to heel and then Geoghegan Hart lead the chase in the final 30km. Even when Vincenzo Nibali's attack hurt, he dug deep to gradually close the gap and tried to stay calm as directeur sportif reassured him of the time gaps.
"You forget your own second place in a position like that. Today I was working for Pavel; otherwise, it's too confusing. We just needed to focus on one thing and that's to win the race with him," he explained.
"That's the luxury of having two guys. Pavel had the reason to mark him. We stayed more or less together; I kind of knew that when Nibali went that if I went at my rhythm it wouldn't be an issue. Hats off to Nico Portal in the car, there were a few moments there when I thought we wouldn't catch them but he's always so calm and it's incredible."
"For Chris, Pavel and some of the other guys, it's the last race in Sky colours and this is the last week of the team. Two guys under 24 on the top steps of the podium in front of a few of the biggest names in the sport. I'll take it and I hope the sponsors and managers will as well. It's a great way to sign off and thank Sky."
Next up: Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Geoghegan Hart enjoyed his moment on the final podium with Sivakov and Nibali but was understandably thinking about his next race. He has been selected for Team Sky's Liege-Bastogne-Liege squad and had a plan to catch to Belgium for a final recon ride before Sunday's long race.
"We will enjoy it the next 10 minutes on the bus then it's off to Verona to get stuck into another race and then the Giro d'Italia after that," he said.
"It's a big goal to support Wout Poels and Michal Kwiatkowski at Liege. It's also important for me to do races like that because I don't get many chances to do races that are 250km and over. My big goals for the future are the World Championships and the Olympics and so it's important to practice everything."
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