Tao Geoghegan Hart has returned to his best level this year but had an unfortunate and premature end to his season at the Giro d'Italia. Fighting for the pink jersey, the Briton crashed and suffered serious injuries. Ultimately, he did not feel support from INEOS Grenadiers and is moving away.
"I was also in a perfect position: I was five seconds behind Geraint [Thomas] after I was held up by a crash during a bunch sprint and lost nineteen seconds. Without that crash I would have been in the pink, but with the pressure of that jersey and the obligations associated with it, it might have been more difficult," Hart told in The Cycling Podcast. "At that moment I see three riders crashing into the wet road surface in a bend. Two of the three were Geraint and Primoz [Roglic]. With most falls you know how hard you are falling and the moment I hit the ground I knew what had happened. I knew I couldn't stand up, took off my helmet and immediately accepted my fate. In the ambulance I was in a lot of pain as the car hit every hole in the road."
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Hart's crash was one of many within the big favourites of the Corsa Rosa, but was perhaps the one who suffered the biggest consequences. A fractured pelvis ended his season in May, and he is yet to make a return to racing. That will only happen in the 2024 season with Lidl-Trek. The 28-year old is moving on from INEOS Grenadiers after seven seasons.
The British team loses another of it's climbers to a rival team. Hart explains his departure: "It was a very unusual situation that I found myself in. I felt insufficiently supported by INEOS management and also had the feeling that if I didn't try something new now, I would not take that opportunity at any other time."
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Now he is set to take on a new challenge. Firstly to ensure that he's recovered from the injuries that have taken away months of his career, and then to return to his best level. The Briton hopes to fight for the overall classification at the Tour de France next season.
It was a move that made sense for him. "First of all, I knew a lot of riders there. For example, at the age of 15 I already rode against riders like Toms Skujins. Secondly, the equipment also played a role, because I also rode a Trek bike as a junior," he explains. "In general, I also liked the overall project; the team went through many changes in sponsorship and how they saw the future. That's why I'm definitely looking forward to next season."