Tao Geoghegan Hart is set to make his Tour de France debut in 2021, opting against a defence of his 2020 Giro d'Italia victory to instead fight for the general classification in France . The British Ineos Grenadiers rider will also take aim at the Tokyo Olympics road race, which comes just six days after the Tour finale in Paris.
The Tour will be the fifth Grand Tour of Geoghegan Hart's career, coming after two participations apiece at the Giro and Vuelta a España. The 25-year-old was a surprise winner in Italy last October, beating Team Sunweb's Jai Hindley by 39 seconds in Milan after impressing in the final week.
Geoghegan Hart told The Telegraph that it was a tough decision for him to choose between the Tour and the Giro, but said that it was time to target something new.
"It was pretty much 50-50 because I think both would be really exciting," he said.
"I love racing in Italy. I loved the experience of the Giro. And of course, it would be incredible to go back there this year with the number one jersey. I understand the significance of that. But I think as a bike racer, to put it bluntly, you can't see the number on your back.
"Ultimately, I felt it I wanted to target something new and different. And yeah, the biggest race in cycling. I think there's no argument there."
It remains to be seen whether Geoghegan Hart will be handed a leadership or co-leadership role at the Tour by team boss Dave Brailsford.
Geoghegan Hart is expected to form part of a strong Ineos Grenadiers squad in France, with 2018 and 2019 champions Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal also in the frame for a leadership spot. 2019 Giro winner Richard Carapaz and the returning Richie Porte could also make the Tour team.
"We haven't had that conversation," Geoghegan Hart said of team leadership. "And to be honest it's not really a conversation I'm too interested in either.
"I think at the end of the day, the legs that you show, probably coming out of the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, but even just at the start of the race, that's what will decide."
Geoghegan Hart said that he feels ready to compete for the Tour GC this year, adding that his Giro win has given him the confidence to believe in a bid for the maillot jaune.
"Yeah definitely, I think so," he said. "I think three-week racing really suits me physiologically. Especially that last week. I don't think you'll ever see me doing anything too interesting in the first week of a grand tour.
"But I think as it goes on, and as I showed in the Giro, I was there. And yeah, of course, I think with that race in mind, that does give me the confidence to dream about trying to challenge for the Tour."
He added, however, that his bid for the overall win doesn't have to come this season. Making his race debut this summer could see him gain experience for a GC battle down the line.
"It doesn't have to be this year. I think that's a key point. I'm 25 years old and I've not ridden the Tour before. Yes, we've seen two guys in the last couple years win it at near enough their first attempt. But I think equally there's a massive argument to be had for just going there, full stop. And, you know, approaching the race also with the future in mind."
As for the Olympic Games, rescheduled for this August due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Geoghegan Hart says that he's in two minds on whether the Giro or Tour provide the best lead-up to the race.
Vincenzo Nibali and Simon Yates will target the Italian race, though plenty of big names will attempt the Tour-Olympics double, unperturbed by the quick turnaround between them.
"I'd love to be there," Geoghegan Hart said of Tokyo, revealing Great Britain is already working on its squad of riders.
"I think even if we are only four riders and other nations have an extra rider, we have potentially such a strong, strong team.
"We actually managed to get together in December for 24 hours of meetings and some equipment preparation and stuff, which was great, up in Manchester. There's 10 or so guys up for the four spots that we have. And there's obviously incredible strength in depth in that group.
"I think there's three Grand Tour winners, plus obviously Hugh Carthy, who was on the Vuelta podium last year. It's really exciting and a massive goal for me, I think it always has been growing up – especially within the British Cycling system. But yeah, that's a long way away."
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