Being labelled the "next generation" of Team Sky by none other than Sir Dave Brailsford would be quite a burden to bear for most. But Tao Geoghegan Hart refuses to see this tag as an added pressure despite the expectation that he could well be the next Bradley Wiggins or Chris Froome. 21 year-old Geoghegan Hart, who was born and brought up in London but qualifies to compete for Scotland through his father, officially joined Team Sky on January 1 this year and, while he comes across as supremely laid-back, even he admits that joining the biggest cycling team in the world is a thrilling opportunity. “It’s really exciting to join Sky,” he says. “It’s very nice to be a young British rider on a British team but I actually think that for young international guys, it’s just as special for them to join Sky. This really is a massive honour for me.”

Geoghegan Hart has long been touted as an exciting prospect in the world of cycling. After a few promising years as a junior rider, it was 2013 that the Scot began to make his mark, claiming victory in the Tour of Istira and Giro Della Lunigiana, as well as a podium place at the prestigious Paris-Roubaix Juniors. The following year, he signed with the Bissell development team which was run by Axel Merckx, the son of the legendary rider Eddy, and Geoghegan Hart began racing at continental level. Improving performances caught the eye of several professional teams and in the latter half of 2015, Geoghegan Hart raced as a stagieire (a trainee) for Team Sky. Following that stint, many observers expected the young rider to sign a full pro contract with Sky but taking many by surprise, Geoghegan Hart chose to stay with Merckx’s team and race as an under-23 rider for another season. It was not, he recalls, an easy decision. “Last year, I felt like I still had more to gain from riding in the under-23 ranks – I wanted to win races and get more experience of being a leader,” he says. “It was a risk to stay because there were no guarantees that at the end of 2016 I would get any offers to turn professional. It really wasn’t an easy decision and at times, I wasn’t sure if it was the right one but now, I definitely think that was the right choice for me. I’m in a good place now to transition into this team and so far, I feel like that transition has gone very well.”

All eyes will be on Geoghegan Hart and Team Sky’s other neo-pros this year. With the team having won four out of the last five yellow jerseys in the Tour de France, there is pressure to find a rider who can continue the success of Wiggins and Froome. While 2017 will be too early for Geoghegan Hart to make any significant impact at the very top level, he reveals that Brailsford has given himself and his fellow young pros a specific target for this season. “Dave gave us a chat when we joined and told us that we have three targets and each race we go into, we should be trying to achieve one of the targets,” he explains. “The three targets are- go into a race trying to win it, go into a race to learn to win it in the future or go into a race to help someone else to win. That’s exciting because it shows that the team has expectations of us and we can’t use the excuse of being young as protection. And it’ll be a privilege to learn from my teammates because they’re incredibly experienced.”

The young rider has spent the first few weeks of his move into the big time in Mallorca at a training camp and already he has experienced Team Sky’s legendary attention to detail. As well as the squad having their own chef, there are many other marginal gains which Geoghegan Hart is confident will add up to improved performances from him this year. “We’ve done a lot of work with nutritionists which is great because that’s really new territory for me,” he says. “The training rides aren’t necessarily tougher than I’ve been used to but they’re definitely more specific and you’re always analysing what you’re doing. You’re doing every ride for a reason rather than just doing particular training because that’s what everyone’s always done.”

Team Sky has not had an easy time of it of late in terms of press coverage however; revelations around therapeutic use exemptions and suspicious packages has means that Brailsford and his team have been under pressure like never before. But Geoghegan Hart is refusing to let any of the allegations affect him and he remains fully focused on his first race of the season, in Mallorca, on Sunday. “For me, it’s all about focusing on what I can control,” he says. “Cycling is my passion as well as my job and so I just go out there and concentrate on what I’m trying to achieve in my life. That overrides anything else that’s going on whether it’s global news, sporting news or whatever- I just go out on my bike. I’ll be starting racing in Majorca before going off to the middle-east and so that’s all I’m thinking about at the moment.”