Cycling-Geoghegan Hart targets Tour and Tokyo, will not defend Giro title

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Giro d'Italia

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Tao Geoghegan Hart said on Wednesday he would not defend his Giro d'Italia title this year but aims to turn his focus instead on a possible Tour de France and Tokyo Olympics double.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider told the Daily Telegraph he wanted a new challenge.

"I love racing in Italy. I loved the experience of the Giro," said the 25-year-old Londoner.

"Of course, it would be incredible to go back there this year with the number one jersey. I understand the significance of that. But I think as a bike racer, to put it bluntly, you can't see the number on your back.

"Ultimately, I felt I wanted to target something new and different. And yeah, the biggest race in cycling. I think there's no argument there."

Geoghegan Hart's victory in Italy last year came after a largely disappointing Tour from Ineos-Grenadiers, who had 2019 winner Egan Bernal pull out injured in the final week.

Colombian Bernal and Britain's 2018 winner Geraint Thomas are both on Ineos' books, as well as Ecuador's 2019 Giro winner Richard Carapaz and it remains to be seen who will take the lead role.

"I’m 25 years old and I’ve not ridden the Tour before," said Geoghegan Hart, who felt he could hope to compete for the yellow jersey but also had time on his side.

"We've seen two guys in the last couple years win it at near enough their first attempt but I think equally there's a massive argument to be had for just going there full stop. And, you know, approaching the race also with the future in mind."

The Giro runs from May 8-30 while the Tour de France is scheduled for June 26-July 18.

The Tokyo Games are due to start on July 23 and end on Aug 8, with Britain yet to name its cycling team.

"I’d love to be there," said Geoghegan Hart. "There's 10 or so guys up for the four spots that we have. And there’s obviously incredible strength in depth in that group."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)