Tao Geoghegan Hart signs for under-23 development team Bontrager for 2014
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 14/10/13 12:39pm
Tao Geoghegan Hart has enjoyed an outstanding 2013 season
British teenager Tao Geoghegan Hart has taken a major step on the road to becoming a professional rider by signing for the highly regarded under-23 development team Bontrager.
The 18-year-old Londoner will join the American squad for the 2014 season after an impressive 2013 campaign in which he won the Tour of Istria and Giro Internazionale della Lunigiana stage races and finished third in the Junior Paris-Roubaix.
Bontrager, which will be known as Bissell from next year, was set up in 2009 as Trek - Livestrong and has gone on to help 15 riders turn professional in the past five years, including Britain's Alex Dowsett, Taylor Phinney and current Team Sky pair Ian Boswell and Joe Dombrowski.
Geoghegan Hart told Sky Sports: "It is one of the best development teams in the world and I am really looking forward to being a part of it and trying to make my mark.
"I signed about a month ago now, so it has been an exciting time keeping it under wraps. It is something I have always aspired to do, so it is really cool that it is coming to fruition.
"They first made contact three or four months ago and it has been a nice process to work it all out and see it fit together.
Bontrager's pro graduates
- Sam Bewley (RadioShack)
- Bjorn Selander (RadioShack)
- Alex Dowsett (Team Sky)
- Ben King (RadioShack)
- Benjamin King (Team Type 1 - Sanofil)
- Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing)
- Tim Roe (BMC Racing)
- Jesse Sergent (RadioShack)
- George Bennett (RadioShack)
- Ian Boswell (Team Sky)
- Joe Dombrowski (Team Sky)
- Jasper de Buyst (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise)
- Nathan Brown (Garmin-Sharp)
- Lawson Craddock (Argos-Shimano)
- Jasper Stuyven (Trek)
"It was massively exciting when they first approached me. It was nerve-wracking as well because it is a big decision and there are so many different options and pathways, but I am really happy with this decision. It is really what I wanted to do."
Although not a professional team, Bontrager ride in a selection of elite races in both North America and Europe, meaning Geoghegan Hart could line up against the likes of Chris Froome at events such as the USA Pro Challenge.
Production line of talent
The squad is managed by Axel Merckx, a former rider and son of the legendary Eddy Merckx.
Geoghegan Hart added: "It is a big step in my career. The main aspect is moving up to under-23s and elite racing. No one knows how you are going to react to the longer races and the tougher opposition, so it just about seeing how I respond and making sure I give it my best shot.
"It is an amazing development programme and they have got a brilliant history of taking young riders and getting the best out of them, so I will look forward to trying to follow in the footsteps of the guys I aspire to be."
Geoghegan Hart started his 2013 campaign in impressive style by claiming a place on the podium in the Junior Paris-Roubaix and then followed that up by winning stage two of the Tour of Istria on the way to topping the final general classification.
His most eye-catching display of the year was at the Giro Internazionale della Lunigiana, though, where he triumphed on the opening stage and won the general, points and mountains classifications.
Geoghegan Hart added: "It has been a good year on the whole. There were low points but plenty of high points, so it is about forgetting the lows, training hard over the winter and trying to make an impact in the under-23s."