Five things you might not know about Giro d'Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart

The INEOS Grenadiers rider became just the fifth Briton – after Brad Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Simon Yates – to win a Grand Tour.
By ZK Goh

After one of the closest Giro d'Italia races in history, Great Britain now have a fifth Grand Tour champion in the shape of Tao Geoghegan Hart.

The 25-year-old Londoner, riding for INEOS Grenadiers – the team that produced three of the previous four British Grand Tour winners (Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, and Geraint Thomas) – went into the final stage - a 15.7 km time trial to Milan - second in the overall standings, but tied on time to the second with leader Jai Hindley.

In fact, he was only classified behind Hindley by virtue of the hundredths of seconds the race's two prior time trial stages were measured to.

Geoghegan Hart, the better time triallist of the two, beat his friend-turned-rival on the final day of the Giro by 39 seconds to snatch away the maglia rosa, the leader's pink jersey, at the last. Geoghegan Hart's teammate Filippo Ganna, the world time trial champion who had won three previous stages of the race, took the Stage 21 victory.

But who is Tao Geoghegan Hart? Here are five things you might not have known about the Scottish rider.

Giro d'Italia champion Tao Geoghegan Hart of INEOS Grenadiers (in pink) acknowledges his friend and runner-up Jai Hindley of Team Sunweb on the podium in Milan. (Photo: REUTERS)

1 – His Irish name pays tribute to his father

Tao Geoghegan. Just how do you pronounce that?

The two names are Irish.

Tao, pronounced "Tay-o", is the Irish version of the English name "Tom". He's named after his Irish-Scots father, Tom Geoghan, and "Geoghegan" (pronounced "gay-gan") is just the Irish spelling of his father's last name.

Although born in north London, Geoghegan Hart considers himself Scottish through his dad. He was named in Scotland's Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games teams, but was unable to make space in his race schedule on both occasions to accept the call-up.

2 – He took part in a cross-English Channel swim at 13

Before Geoghegan Hart took up cycling, he played football and was a decent swimmer with the Clissold Swimming Club.

In fact, in 2008 aged 13, he was part of a mixed six-member team of 13-to-15-year-old swimmers who took part in a relay across the English Channel, swimming from England to France.

The team completed the crossing in 11 hours, 34 minutes.

"After that, pool swimming started to seem less and less interesting," Geoghegan Hart pointed out in a 2013 interview.

3 – His pro mentor wasn't one of the big names

While he cites Wiggins and Mark Cavendish among his cycling heroes as two men who helped grow cycling in the United Kingdom, his mentor in the pro peloton – especially when he was first breaking through – wasn't one of the bigger names.

It was Alex Dowsett, a time-trial specialist and six-time British national time trial champion who was, at the time, riding with Spain's Team Movistar.

Dowsett, now with Israel Start-Up Nation, will no doubt have watched on (having completed his own time trial before Geoghegan Hart even left the start gate) with satisfaction at his friend's time trial efforts to win pink.

4 – He decided he wasn't fast enough for the track

Like many before him, Geoghegan Hart had a go in the velodrome in addition to his road cycling. He was part of Great Britain's team that won silver at the European Track Cycling Junior Championships in 2012.

The track pursuits are endurance events, and successful cross-discipline riders from track pursuit tend to be strong road time triallists.

This led him to give up that discipline.

"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," he told Velo Veritas in 2013.

5 – He rarely watches races in person

Geoghegan Hart hasn't seen that many pro races in person. While that's perhaps to be expected now that he has his own race schedule to see to, it was the case even before he joined the professional peloton.

Speaking to the Telegraph in 2014, he only named two races that he remembers attending: the Tour de France prologue held in London in 2007, and the London 2012 road race.

"(The Tour prologue) was one of the only pro races I'd seen until recently really," he said then. "Other than that and the Olympic road race and a few others I haven't actually seen a tonne of pro races as a spectator because I've been racing myself.

"Seeing the Tour in London was a massive inspiration at the time. The same, though, goes for the coverage of cycling you get: the literature, photography and everything around the sport can be pretty inspiring when you're young."