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Tao Geoghegan Hart trades Giro d’Italia defense for Tour de France debut

Londoner also targeting Olympic selection in season he hopes will see a first-ever ride at the Tour.

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Tao Geoghegan Hart is looking at earning his long-awaited Tour de France debut this summer – even if it means skipping a defense of his Giro d’Italia title.

Having come close to making the extra-competitive Ineos Grenadiers squad last summer only to be bumped out by Costa Rican Andrey Amador, Geoghegan Hart is hoping 2o21 will be his year. For Geoghegan Hart, the pull of the high-profile Tour de France is strong enough to overpower the gravity of defending his first-ever grand tour title.

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“I was pretty much 50-50 [between targeting the Giro and the Tour] because I think both would be really exciting,” he told The Telegraph. “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.”

The 25-year-old has twice raced both the Vuelta a España and the Giro, and he’s now hoping that his breakout ride into pink last fall gives him the heft to make it to the Tour this summer.

“Ultimately, I felt I wanted to target something new and different. And yeah, the biggest race in cycling. I think there’s no argument there,” Geoghegan Hart said Wednesday.

The battle for selection at this summer’s Tour squad will be fierce among a deep Ineos Grenadiers roster recently bolstered by Adam Yates and Richie Porte. With former winners Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal both eyeing a leadership slot and 2019 Giro champ Richard Carapaz emerging as one of the squad’s most promising three-week racers, Geoghegan Hart will be short of breathing space in the squabble for captaincy.

Having finished the Giro d’Italia with the pink jersey on his back having started the race carrying bottles for team leader Thomas, Geoghegan Hart knows that the first hurdle is just being at the start line in Brittany this June.

“I’m not worrying about anyone else, or vying for leadership,” he said. “I’m just hoping to be another great card to play. And part of that, I think, is that one of the biggest strengths of our team is to go in with a really strong squad. And then kind of work it out as the race unfolds.”

Just as Geoghegan Hart faces stiff opposition for a berth at the Tour, his hopes of riding at the Tokyo Olympics are similarly congested. Team GB will only have a four-man team at the Games, and there’s a long list of grand tour winners and podium finishers hoping to make the flight to Japan this July.

“There’s 10 or so guys up for the four spots that we have,” he said. “It’s really exciting and a massive goal for me, I think it always has been kind of growing up especially within the British Cycling system.”

Geoghegan Hart is set to start his path toward his ambitious aims for the year at next week’s Tour de Provence.

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