Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsTao Geoghegan Hart - What He Told Us Seven Years Ago

Tao Geoghegan Hart – What He Told Us Seven Years Ago


Given events in Milano today we thought you might like to see what the man in the final Giro d’Italia pink jersey, Tao Geoghegan Hart had to say to VeloVeritas some seven years ago…

Tao Geoghegan Hart celebrates with officials, but no crowd, in Milan. Photo@Massimo Paolone/LaPresse

* * *

First published on December 25th, 2013

He has a name that’s hard to miss, Tao Geoghegan Hart; with 2013 results to match – two of Europe’s premier junior stage races and a podium in the junior Paris-Roubaix.

And for 2014 the 18 year-old from London is off to follow the path trodden by his mentor, Movistar’s Essex chronoman, Alex Dowsett; heading for the USA under the tutelage of Axel Merckx at Bissell – formerly Trek/Bontrager.

Merckx has an excellent track record of bringing young talent through – as well as Dowsett there’s Sky’s Joe Dombrowski and Ian Boswell, not to mention BMC’s Taylor Phinney.

We caught up with Tao just prior to Xmas…

Tell us about your name please; it’s unusual – and how should we pronounce it?

“Tao and Geoghegan are Irish, Tao meaning Tom in Irish Gaelic, my dad’s name.

“It’s pronounced Tayo Gaygan!

“It’s often spelt in all manner of ways, much to my amusement.”

How did you get into the bike?

“I have always ridden around London for transport and been involved in sport; first football then swimming.

“I swam an English Channel relay when I was 13 and after that pool swimming started to seem less and less interesting.

“I guess that’s when a little red women’s racing bike caught my eye.

“I just got stuck in and explored really. I was very lucky, CC Hackney were starting up around the same time and running some grass track events to get youngsters in to it.

“Looking back it all just fell in to place.”

Your rise has been rapid – 2011 saw national results; 2012 European results then this year you’ve won at Nations Cup level.

“When I started cycling I always felt very behind. I didn’t come from a cycling family like a lot of people and especially on the track; I just didn’t have the experience.

“But I worked hard and most importantly was lucky enough to go through the British Cycling set up, working with two amazing coaches; Stuart Blunt on the talent team (u16) and then Matthew Winston for two years on the Olympic Development Programme. I couldn’t have asked for anymore in my time with them.

“I will use what I learned on the BC Programmes for the rest of my life. 

“The actual results themselves just came from progression and starting to ride longer, harder and hillier races that suited me. I turned top 20 Nations cup results in 2012 into wins with experience and my approach as much as with physical improvements.

“We had a good team too, after Roubaix and Istria the ball really started to roll, everyone’s roles clicked in, and we performed almost every race day, flat or hilly.”

Tao Geoghegan Hart
Tao Geoghegan Hart in action at the World Champs in 2012. Photo©Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Silver in the European Junior Team Pursuit Championships in 2012 – did you consider going down the TP avenue?

“Most definitely. I love the team pursuit and fourth in the home Junior Worlds in Glasgow this year was gravely disappointing, even if a great learning experience.

“The TP is a fascinating event and I really buy in to the team element of it, not to mention the training and ultra focused feedback that comes from searching for milliseconds per lap on race day.

“However I didn’t see myself as a rider who could really give to a senior team pursuit team at the pro level. I might be wrong but I simply don’t think I am fast enough.

“You have to have an incredible turn of speed, and in my current build I don’t think I have that to perform at a world class level, I might be wrong but I guess for now I won’t find out!

“My heart is on the road, which is why I chose not to pursue the track.”

Third in the junior Paris-Roubaix, this year – any ‘what ifs?’

“Without doubt, I didn’t have much confidence and probably would have thrown it even harder to the wall now than I did on the day.

“That said, I attacked and attacked but Mads (Dane Mads Pedersen who went on to finish second in the Junior Worlds in Florence, ed.) was simply too strong.

“I have often thought about that day and what I would do again, so if I can get in a similar scenario you will hopefully see a different outcome!

“It was a great day though and the regrets are definitely overshadowed by the way in which it got the momentum going for the rest of the season…”

Tell us about your win in the Tour of Istria – that’s Nations Cup, isn’t it?

“Yeah although it’s funny, everything in the Nations cup series is over shadowed by Roubaix!

“But that makes sense and makes the day on the cobbles all the more special – being ‘attached’ to the pro race in that way. I always say Roubaix and Worlds stand in a class of their own.

“Croatia was brilliant, I had the form and although the terrain wasn’t mountainous, it was hard enough to split it.

“The second day is a right corker; finishing up a 500m super steep cobbled climb, I loved that stage in 2012 and came back really looking forward to getting stuck in!

“It was essentially a bunch sprint so the time gaps weren’t huge, making for interesting racing on the last stage and some sprinting for time bonuses, which luckily I managed to do!”

Tao Geoghegan Hart
Tao Geoghegan Hart on the podium at the Giro della Luigiana. Photo©

The Giro della Luigiana – tell us about that win.

“My first race in Italy, I loved it and the parcours were really great to match.

“I had just come straight from a solo two week training camp in Nice, forgoing a big race in the UK, as beforehand we had been on the track for eight or nine weeks.

“I really didn’t know my form and hadn’t raced on the road in months. I went it to it like any other race, looking to perform, but really it was build up for the Worlds. I was very lucky to have joint leadership of the team with another rider going in to the race and I would like to think I showed it was the right call.

“It was a cool race though; I would really love to race out in Italy again sometime.”

Tao Geoghegan Hart
Tao Geoghegan Hart’s first win in Italy. Photo©

A broken chain at the Worlds, that must have been sore?

“Indeed, not much to learn from that one – but these things happen in racing.

“I love the unpredictability of it as a fan of the sport so have to accept this kind of thing.

“It was bitterly disappointing though; the legs were pretty on it.”

Tao Geoghegan Hart pushes his chainless bike up the climb, knowing his World Championship bid is over. Photo©unknown

How did the Bissell ride come about?

“Axel and I spoke a little through the season and as soon as he said he was interested it was a done deal.

“I always wanted to join this team and work with Axel, so to get the opportunity is amazing.”

Were there any other options on the table?

“Yes there were.

“I always knew I wanted to join Bissell though so it was more a case of seeing if that would work out…”

You must be looking forward to riding for Axel Merckx?

“Very much so, and our other DS Omar Kem, who has a wealth of experience of racing in the States.

“But yes, working with Axel is an amazing opportunity that I hope to make the most of; he has produced some amazing riders over the last few years and had a huge career himself.

“You don’t find many better DS’s than that, right? Well, I don’t think so – and I am super excited to get stuck in!”

Alex Dowsett is your mentor – tell us about how the relationship works.

“Alex is a good friend; he’s perfectly placed for me to ask for advice but also simply to just be a mate.

“I am sure he would love me to say he dishes out the fashion advice and tells me how to be a Spanish mountain goat from his experiences with Movistar – but we just chat about stuff, anything and everything really.

“I always try to speak to as many guys as possible that I meet on the road though, riders or otherwise.

“It’s so interesting to meet new people. 

“That said Alex was great about me joining Axel, he had done it himself after all.”

Your training – SRM and watts or ‘old school’?

“Watts but I’m a sucker for a little old school too.”

Tao Geoghegan Hart’s TT position is pretty good already. Photo©Patrick Pátek

Tell us about your connections with Rapha and Condor.

“I worked in Condor when I was 14 for a year or so, however as I started properly racing Saturday mornings became dedicated to that.

“Grant Young from Condor gave me a bike the next season and it just snowballed over the years into an amazing amount of support this season.

“Similarly I have been working with Rapha for over three years now, after we made contact at the London Nocturne support race when I was a first year under 16 rider.

“It has been great to represent two brands from London; they are amazing companies and great people and I’ve loved working with them.

“I feel an immense sense of loyalty to both Rapha and Condor.”

Have you received your bike and clothing for 2014, yet?

“I have been riding my Madone for a few months already!

“I love it.”

Has your programme been discussed, yet?

“It’s all in the works at the moment.

“A big new experience for me coming up from the junior ranks, it’s not something you have to do as such.”

Where will ‘home’ be for 2014?

“All over the place – Gerona this winter, California and some other bits and pieces in the season.

“I really enjoy floating around though – it’s an amazing opportunity to see the world.”

How much slack will you cut yourself over Xmas?

“A little, I do a fair bit of riding over Christmas, although this year it’s a bit different coming back to London and seeing everyone, all about balancing it all out this time of year I think.”

What would you like to have achieved by the end of season 2014?

” To step up and ride some big races.

“Ultimately I would love to be seen as a well respected and hard working member of the team, someone who can be relied on to deliver.

“I will work hard and try to grasp as many opportunities, whether in a support role or indeed personally, to see what happens.

“It’s all learning but I don’t see that as an excuse not to perform.”

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Il Giro d’Italia 2014 – Stage 10; Modela – Salsomaggiore, 184 km. Third for Nacer Bouhanni

Bouhanni is impressive; he was on the limit to get over the little rise on the run in – where Sky did a lot of damage to a lot of people, unfortunately including their own sprinter, Ben Swift who just scraped in to the top ten – but the wiry French fast man was right where he had to be for the finale.

Giro d’Italia 2013 – Stage 17: Caravaggio – Vicenza 214km. Visconti’s Second!

In the 'small world' file, there we are near the top of the final climb on the way to Caravaggio - which would be Cav's undoing - when this lady hear our Scottish accents and asks us if we know La Favorita Pizzeria in Edinburgh? Well! Are they no' just about to open a branch in Portobello, just round the corner from me? It transpires that it's her brother, Davide's business. Cue smiles all round and photo op with Sarah and hubby in 'see you Jimmy' wig.

Mark McNally – Everything geared to the Tour of Britain

The summer is coming to an end so it must be time for Madison-Genesis rider Mark McNally to come to form... McNally is a product of the British ‘cycling academy’ system and was a member of the winning team in the European junior team pursuit championship in 2007 and European U23 team pursuit championship in 2008.

Giro d’Italia 2015 – Stage 20, Saint-Vincent – Sestriere; Aru Ancora!

It was a privilege to be there and great to be part of it all on Stage 20; a marvelous spectacle on the 'sterrato' without doubt - but is it sport or simply a circus? The cameras love it and it's great copy - maybe I'm being too harsh? Paris-Roubaix throws back to the old days so why not have stages like this, many would say?

Harry Tanfield – “Any further than a ’25’ gets a bit dull!”

Harry Tanfield has been prominent in a couple of stages at La Vuelta and rode well to finish last on the Angrilu on Sunday. To celebrate Harry's accomplishment on this hardest of stages and because it's interesting to see the mindset of aspiring riders making good, we present again our chat with him from six years ago when he was making a name for himself in Belgium's kermises.

Mark McNally – Retired, After Eight Years with Belgian Teams

We’ve opened the ‘whatever happened to’ file again and this time it’s Liverpudlian gone Flatlands native, Mark McNally. It was VeloVeritas mentor and expert on all things Belgian, Viktor who suggested that we contact the man originally from Liverpool but who has now made Belgium his home.

At Random

The VV View: Young Guns, No Tears No Fears…

The year 2019 is almost behind us, who are the young guns who are going to be making the international headlines in 2020? We’ve picked out our ‘baker’s dozen’ of the best of the best youngsters around, we’ve set the age limit at 23 so that excludes phenomena, 24 year-old Mathieu Van Der Poel and 25 year-old Wout Van Aert...

Giro d’Italia 2010 – Day Five, Tyler Farrar Again

Tyler Farrar again today... the Italians are like any other race, there's nice folks and not-so-nice folks - but in the main they're friendly and helpful. Until, that is, you stick them behind the wheel of a car - any car will do, doesn't have to be an Audi or a Jag, a clapped out Fiat is fine for acting like a juvenile, aggressive, ignorant, petulant twat.

Nokere – Koerse 2012

Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) started his season well with two stage victories at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in February and the opening road Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen last week, and he continued his great form with a superb sprint victory in Nokere - Koerse 2012 today

Berlin Six Day 2013 – Golden Night

Any talk of decline appears to have been, thankfully, premature as 25,000 people had visited the 102nd Berlin Six Day over the first two days. Tonight was ‘Golden Night’ and another massive crowd of around 13,000 trudged through the ice and snow in temperatures of around -13 to cheer and, in Berlin’s inimitable style, whistle the riders around the 250 metre track.

Chris Smart – Tour of the Meldons 2015 Winner

Chris Smart (Paisley Velo) explained to us that he’d no choice but to successfully defend his Scottish Olympic Time Trial Championship over the Meldons course in the Scottish Borders, recently. If he hadn’t, he’d only have been the champion for half a year; with the Trossachs being the championship race in October 2014 and the Meldons coming in April of this year.

New Juggernaut (TDF 2012 – Stage 7)

Team Sky just knocked 99% of their rivals out of the Tour de France today. With shades of US Postal in the era of Lance Armstrong’s total dominance, Bradley Wiggins’ Team Sky threw their boys on the front of the peloton, and said boys then rode a savage tempo, breaking all but two of the major contenders off the back of the bunch. New Juggernaut.