Geoghegan Hart finished third in the stage four time trial behind new race leader Tejay van Garderen and Patrick Bevin (both BMC Racing), to jump from 11th to fourth overall.
“I couldn’t really hear what the director said after the time split because it was a really fast downhill so it was hard to hear the radio,” Geoghegan Hart said. “But it sounded like a single number rather than a longer word so I took that as a good sign. I felt really good and tried to leave as much as I could in that last 10km. Maybe, I had a bit too much left but that’s better than the other way around.”
Van Garderen entered the 34.7km flat time trial on the outskirts of Silicon Valley trailing young Sky leader Egan Bernal by a minute. He now leads Bernal by 23 seconds with Daniel Martinez (EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale) third at 37 seconds and Geoghegan Hart fourth at 52 seconds.
The 23-year-old Geoghegan Hart sat to the left of Van Garderen at a post-race press conference today, tucking into a large Tupperware container of food as the American spoke.
The eloquent Englishman, who was a stagiaire with Sky in 2015 before turning pro with the team last year, was modest when asked what Sky may do to make-up the deficit to BMC.
“I don’t know what Sky makes of the deficit. I don’t know what the deficit is actually,” Geoghegan Hart said.
“It’s easy for us to get ahead of ourselves. Okay, Egan has shown he’s one of the best riders in the world this season but he’s also 20 years old [21 –ed.]. I had no idea how he would do today, I don’t know if he really knew because it’s one of his first long TTs ever, and I think also one of the flatter TTs he’s done. The plan for us was to take time on Gibraltar and then see how today went.”
Bernal won the first mountain stage to Gibraltar Rd where he took the race lead, the rest unable to match his solo attack with some 2km remaining. He and Geoghegan Hart are both fresh faces at Sky, part of its ‘Generation 2.0’. Geoghegan Hart had positioned Bernal on Gibraltar Rd before the Colombian made his winning move. Behind them is proven hands in Sebastian Henao, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe et al.
Friday’s second and final mountain stage to South Lake Tahoe is sandwiched between two days for the sprinters. Geoghegan Hart’s appetite extended beyond food that he finished off before the press conference was over, turning into a certain climber tellingly hungry for the ascents.
“Tahoe will be a cool stage I think. It’s nice the organisers have put a bit more of a climb in the final than when we did it two years ago. It was a bit of an anti-climax for me two years ago; going all the way up there, amazing scenery, I know there is tons of beautiful climbs there, and we just dropped into Tahoe and finished up a little kicker,” he said.