Tao Geoghegan Hart plans to sponsor young rider in bid to increase diversity

Ian Parker, PA

Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart has announced plans to sponsor a rider with his former development team in a bid to increase diversity in cycling.

In an Instagram post, the 25-year-old Ineos Grenadiers rider said cycling has “a problem with diversity and inclusivity” and said he had drawn inspiration from figures including Marcus Rashford, Sir Lewis Hamilton, and Billie Jean King for the way in which they have raised awareness of the issue.

“Over the past year, through these tough times, many in sport have lead by example; encouraging their audiences to keep dreaming, to fight for equality, or to simply keep on keeping on,” he wrote. “They have used their platforms to draw light to the many pressing issues we face in society.

“Cycling has a problem with diversity and inclusivity. This is a fact. It is not unique within sport, but we must face it head on all the same.

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

But Geoghegan Hart said it was not enough just to talk about issues and that he would now partner with the Hagens Berman Axeon team to make his own impact.

“But what good are words without action?” he added.

“With this in mind, I will be taking action with @hbaxeon 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.”

Geoghegan Hart will work with his former team boss Axel Merckx, son of five-time Tour de France winner Eddy, to identify a rider who would receive coaching with a target of joining the UCI Continental-level on August 1.

In his own post, Merckx said: “We are so proud to partner with Tao on this new program. 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.”

Geoghegan Hart made the announcement on the eve of his first race of the season, the Tour des Alpes Maritimes.

Cycling came under fire for its muted response to the Black Lives Matter movement last year, with only a small gesture made during the final stage after Kevin Reza – the only black rider to take part in last year’s race – had complained that not enough was being done.

This week American rider Ayesha McGowan, a 33-year-old who has long been advocating for better representation in the sport, signed with Women’s WorldTour team Liv Racing as a trainee.

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