• Tao Geoghegan Hart takes a knee at Hackney Marshes in East London. (Timo Spurr - @timoespurio)Source: Timo Spurr - @timoespurio
Giro d'Italia champion Tao Geoghegan Hart will sponsor an Under-23 rider on his old team, Hagens Berman Axeon, in an effort to increase racial diversity in professional cycling.
SBS Cycling Central

19 Feb 2021 - 12:05 PM  UPDATED 19 Feb 2021 - 12:19 PM

The 25-year-old, now a member of INEOS Grenadiers, announced the initiative on Friday (AEST) via social media, citing fellow athletes Marcus Rashford and Billie Jean King as inspirations for him to use his platform to facilitate change. 

His words were accompanied by a picture of him taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement at Hackney Marshes in his native East London area.

Geoghegan Hart was frank in his assessment of the current state of diversity in cycling, and took personal responsibility as a top rider in the sport.

"Cycling has a problem with diversity and inclusivity," he wrote. "This is a fact.

I feel cycling has not done enough during this past year. Furthermore, I have not done enough."

"But what good are words without action?

"I will be taking action with Hagens Berman Axeon by sponsoring an under-23 rider to race with the team this summer. I hope this can be the beginning of a joint effort to increase racial diversity within the amazing sport of Cycling.

"I will work with Axel Merckx and his team in the coming months to identify, coach and mentor the person, and athlete, to join the team on August 1st."

Geoghegan Hart rode for director Axel Merckx's team from 2014 to 2016 prior to turning professional with the Grenadiers, joining a long list of Axeon WorldTour graduates.

My Giro stage win was one of the best in Ineos' history, reveals Geoghegan Hart
Giro d'Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart hailed his Stage 15 victory at Piancavallo as one of the best performances in Team Ineos-Grenadiers' entire history.
Geoghegan Hart wins Giro d'Italia in final TT
Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) went into the final stage on equal time with his Australian adversary Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb), but performed well in the final time trial to take the overall victory at the Giro d'Italia.

Merckx praised Geoghegan Hart and threw his support behind the initiative, also acknowledging the ongoing problem cycling has with diversity.

"We are so proud to partner with Tao on this new program," said Merckx. "The issue of diversity and inclusion in cycling is not something that we take lightly. It’s something that we whole-heartedly believe in as a program and want to help build within the sport. I think we all have a responsibility to be better. 

"As a development team we have the opportunity to create change at the entry level of the sport and it’s something that we hope to grow to a bigger footprint in the future.

We are so thankful to have people like Tao who have come through the program and understand how important this is for the future of the sport."