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Tao Geoghegan Hart racing himself back into condition after Paris-Nice crash

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) during Tour des Alpes
Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) during Tour des Alpes (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) faced a classic dilemma on how best to get back into top shape after his bad crash and abandon mid-way through Paris-Nice - to train or to race? 

The Briton finally plumped for the second option and is currently taking part in the Itzulia Basque Country, his first race back, in support of the team leaders.

The defending Giro d'Italia champion was always going to do the Basque race, he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 4.

But the difference is, rather than it being part of a 'busy spring', the high-powered, hilly six-day event has now become the initial racing segment of his recovery process from a crash that left him concussed and with an injured knee.

"For sure it's early to be racing again, I had two weeks off training but in reality, it was a bit more, to be honest as the first bit [of riding again] was indoors," Geoghegan Hart told Cyclingnews.

"I only really did one full week of training before this so it's been a hard first few days, we're at the height of the season here with guys coming off of Tirreno and Paris-Nice but that's how it goes."

Looking back at the Paris-Nice crash, he said it had more pernicious effects than the 'usual' common or garden variety of hitting the deck in a race. 

"My knee was bad, too, and then I had fatigue from the concussion and a number of different factors. I didn't feel good for two weeks.

"It's just a shame, I had been feeling good and had worked hard all winter. So here I'll just try and do my best for Adam [Yates] and the rest of the guys. I need the racing so that's the reason I'm here."

True to his word, on stage 4 of the Itzulia Basque Country, Geoghegan Hart was visible at the front of the leaders' group on the second last climb of the day, the Jaizkibel, doing pace-setting work. He then finished more than five minutes down, and is currently running 72nd on GC, a long way out of the overall battle but doing everything he can to support Yates all the same. 

Geoghegan Hart's goals are still a long way further into the season, but racing now was only one of the options, he points out. He could have "disappeared for two months," and gone training but he said he didn't want to do that, thinking, "why not try and help the team a bit and also come back into shape this way.

"Of course there's a time and a place for going off and training hard and maybe in some ways that would have been easier. But at the same time, there's not much racing in May and June anyway, so I'd rather get this big block in and see how it goes.

"Of course it's not nice to be pretty far from the form I wanted to have right now, it's not ideal for the summer in terms of momentum and even selection for the Olympics is going to be pretty tough now. But I'll just try and get through each day and see how it goes."

The most visible consequence for Geoghegan Hart is that the Itzulia Basque Country was originally going to be at the end of a first block of racing in 2021, but now it will be the first in a series of extra races on his calendar, including all of the Ardennes Classics and, possibly, a debut in the Brabantse Pijl next week.

"I've always wanted to have a peak in the summer, and a busy autumn as well, and that doesn't change," he reasons. "I'm just coming at it from a different angle."