Tao Geoghegan Hart not getting carried away after coming into Giro d’Italia contention with stage win

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Tao Geoghegan Hart celebrates the biggest win of his career in the Italian Dolomites - GETTY IMAGESTao Geoghegan Hart celebrates the biggest win of his career in the Italian Dolomites - GETTY IMAGES
Tao Geoghegan Hart celebrates the biggest win of his career in the Italian Dolomites – GETTY IMAGES

British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart has surged into pink jersey contention at the Giro d’Italia after taking by far the biggest win of his career on stage 15 to Piancavallo in the Italian Dolomites. 

The Londoner shot from 11th overall to fourth, fewer than three minutes off the lead, after winning a three-up sprint on the toughest climbing stage of the race so far.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Geoghegan Hart, 25, is now just one second off the podium and just 2min57sec behind long-time leader Joao Almeida [Deceuninck-QuickStep], who showed the first cracks in his armour after being distanced on the final climb of the day.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”19″>Geoghegan Hart, 25, is now just one second off the podium and just 2min57sec behind long-time leader Joao Almeida [Deceuninck-QuickStep], who showed the first cracks in his armour after being distanced on the final climb of the day. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Geoghegan Hart did his best to play down expectations in the aftermath of his victory, which he dedicated to Ineos Grenadiers’ sporting director Nicolas Portal, who died suddenly in the spring.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”20″>Geoghegan Hart did his best to play down expectations in the aftermath of his victory, which he dedicated to Ineos Grenadiers’ sporting director Nicolas Portal, who died suddenly in the spring. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But it is difficult not to wonder how much further the 25 year-old, who replaced Geraint Thomas as Ineos leader after the Welshman’s crash on stage three, could rise.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”25″>But it is difficult not to wonder how much further the 25 year-old, who replaced Geraint Thomas as Ineos leader after the Welshman’s crash on stage three, could rise. 

Almeida looks suddenly very vulnerable. The 22 year-old, who is racing in his first grand tour, has been in pink for 12 days already, far longer than anyone anticipated. But the Portuguese was unable to stay with Wilco Kelderman and Jai Hindley when the Sunweb duo attacked on the final climb to Piancavallo. And with the biggest climbs of the race still to come – including the Stelvio Pass and the Colle dell’Agnello and Col d’Izoard, all well over 2000m – any weakness going forward is likely to be ruthlessly exposed.

Kelderman looks the most likely to profit should Almeida falter. The Dutchman, 29, is only 15 seconds off the lead and has the most grand tour experience of the leading contenders with three top-10 finishes at the Vuelta a Espana and one previous top-10 at the Giro. But Geoghegan Hart has long been tipped as a future GC star and the fact he was handed team leadership at both the Giro and the Vuelta last year shows in what esteem Sir Dave Brailsford holds him.

The truth is the race is wide open, with any number of riders still in with a shot of winning, including the veteran Vincenzo Nibali [Trek-Nibali], one of the greatest grand tour riders of all time, who is only 32 seconds behind Geoghegan Hart. The Briton was not getting carried away.

“I’m behind on GC, but I really wanted to win a stage,” he said. 

“The plan here for the whole team was to support Geraint for the victory and I believe that Geraint would have been on the podium of this Giro or better to be honest. 

“It’s been such an up and down race. We just have to show the Grenadier spirit we’re trying to foster in this team and keep bouncing back like we know we can.”

At the Tour of Flanders, Mathieu van der Poel [Alpecin-Fenix] beat Wout van Aert [Jumbo-Visma] in a photo finish after 240km of racing. 

The pair, who were the pre-race favourites, escaped up the road with 45km remaining, along with the world champion Julian Alaphilippe [Deceuninck-QuickStep]. Alaphilippe, however, crashed spectacularly after clipping a motorbike, leaving the two cyclocross greats to duke it out in a thrilling finale. 

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Boels Dolmans) won the women’s race, attacking on the Oude Kwaremont 19 kilometres from the finish and holding off the chasing pack.