Tao Geoghegan Hart has described his debut Tour de France as "far from ideal" but is set to fight on in the final week in a bid to gain experience and support his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Richard Carapaz.
After winning the Giro d'Italia last year, Geoghegan Hart came into his first Tour as one of four potential leaders for Ineos Grenadiers. However, crashes have ravaged the British team's options, and Carapaz is the last man standing in terms of overall contention.
Geoghegan Hart's Tour was derailed as early as the opening day, when he went down in the mass crash caused by a sign-holding spectator.
He struggled through the opening week more than an hour down in the overall standings, and has since been unable to be right at the sharp end when Ineos have tried to take the race on in the second week. However he refused to downbeat despite his suffering and disappointment.
"It's definitely not miserable. I enjoy racing, I enjoy doing my job and being here with the team," Geoghegan Hart told Reuters and other media on the rest day.
"It's still a massive race every young cyclist dreams of being part of and, at the end of the day, when you get to stage 20 in a Grand Tour there's always the chance that you can turn it around and even if that's not stage 20 or 21 it could be in the future. It is also experience."
Ahead of the Tour, Geoghegan Hart positioned himself as one of Ineos' four cards for leadership, bristling at question marks over his spot in the hierarchy. However, on the second rest day he revealed that he and Richie Porte were always a rung below Carapaz and Geraint Thomas.
"We openly discussed that basically for myself and Richie Porte it was a case of trying to stay in the game but you can't protect four riders in the Tour, it's never going to happen," he said.
"If you look at the top 10 now, it's one rider from each team and that's not by chance."
Ahead of the final week, Carapaz lies fourth overall, part of a tightly-packed group of riders that are streets behind race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
Ineos took the race by the scruff of the neck on Mont Ventoux and on Sunday's stage in the Pyrenees but, despite isolating Pogačar, were unable to start eating into the five-minute deficit.
Geoghegan Hart's main ambition now is to help his Ecuadorian teammate pull something off in the final week.
"It's been far from ideal but it's the nature of the beast," Geoghgean Hart said.
"And I think at the same time we still got Richard in a good position and if I was in his shoes I would be looking around the bus looking for my team mates' support and it's a big motivation for me to give him as much support as I can."
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