Tao Geoghegan Hart‘s third place on Wednesday’s stage 4 of the Tour of California – won by BMC’s Tejay van Garderen – will be no great surprise to those who have followed the Londoner’s progression over the past few years.
Nor was it any great surprise to the man himself, who knew he was capable of such a performance against the clock, but perhaps doesn’t always get the opportunity to flex his TT muscles.
“Even if I’d only been top 15 today, I would have been happy,” Geoghegan Hart told Cyclingnews. “It feels as if it’s been a long time since I did a TT that I think reflected what I can do. I was thinking about this race the other day, and about when we were in Santa Clarita for the time trial in 2015 which was moved from Big Bear. That was the last good TT I did when I finished and thought, ‘Yeah, I really nailed it.’ And I know a course like today suits me better – a bit longer – so I’m really happy.”
The Pro Continental team Hagens Berman Axeon, run by Eddy Merckx’s son and former pro Axel Merckx, continues to produce almost fully-formed WorldTour riders like Geoghegan Hart, and the squad has come close to a win already on this year’s Tour of California when Sean Bennett finished second to Trek-Segafredo’s Toms Skujins on stage 3 to the Laguna Seca Raceway.
The day before, on stage 2 to the summit finish on Gibraltar Road, 23-year-old Geoghegan Hart showed exactly what a Hagens Berman alumnus could do when he forced the pace up the final climb, first almost riding everyone off his wheel before providing the springboard for Sky teammate Egan Bernal to power away to the stage victory and the race lead. Geoghegan Hart still managed to finish the stage in 12th place, despite the considerable effort made for the team.
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