The Independent

Hayter’s Tour statement shows British cycling’s future is in good hands


Prior to the summer, you would have been forgiven for thinking British cycling was in a period of transition.

On the road, it was only the second year since 2011 that a British rider had not won either the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France , while on the track the USA, Denmark and Italy seemed to be closing the gap on Team GB after more than a decade of playing catch-up.

But look a little more forensical­ly at the flurry of riders coming through and it shouldn’t have been a surprise that a swarm of UK-based talent would announce themselves on the world stage over the next few months – the latest of whom is Ethan Hayter.

It began with Ineos Grenadiers rider Tom Pidcock’s performanc­es in the classics. The supremely diverse cyclo-cross rider followed up a couple of top-five finishes with a standout win at Brabantse Pijl.

He then picked up a second place at the Amstel Gold Race behind the world’s number one rider Wout van Aert , who he had outsprinte­d four days earlier in Belgium. He lost out in a photo finish, but the then 21-year-old’s place among the best in the peloton had been firmly establishe­d.

Less than four months later, Pidcock showcased his quite remarkable ability to excel at not just cyclo-cross or road cycling, but also mountain biking.

The Leeds-born youngster battled rolling rocks, ridges and a relentless Swiss duo to take gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games , a performanc­e that came just six weeks after a car crashed into him and broke his collar bone.

Ten days later, another British talent joined Pidcock’s private gold medal party as Matt Walls, 23, utterly dominated an experience­d field to triumph in the omnium at the Tokyo Games.

The 23-year-old from Oldham looked every inch an Olympic champion, swatting aside seasoned operators Elia Viviani and Roger Kluge like they were schoolboy novices.

Not content with taking one medal back from Japan, two days later Walls went in the madison alongside teammate and housemate Ethan Hayter. Among a field littered with star

quality, the inexperien­ced pair came away with a brilliant silver medal .

That was just six weeks ago and yet it was the first in a series of statement performanc­es from Hayter, which culminated in his second place overall at the Tour of Britain last week.

Less than a fortnight after the Olympics, 22-year-old Hayter claimed two stages and topped the general classifica­tion at the Tour of Norway.

A four-day race where Walls also took a stage win, it meant their three-man household in Manchester – which also contains Bahrain Victorious’s rising star Fred Wright – helped themselves to 75 per cent of the victories on offer at the race.

The following week Hayter then claimed a solid fourth place at the Bretagne Classic.

And his impressive form was there for everyone to see at the Tour of Britain as the eight-day stage race got underway in Penzance. Hayter finished fourth behind Van Aert in the opening stage and then led the bunch home for second place the following day.

He helped his Ineos outfit to win the team time trial, before showing his strength going uphill on stage four. Hayter stayed within touching distance of Van Aert and world champion Julian

Alaphilipp­e to finish fifth on the climb up the Welsh headland of Great Orme and keep his general classifica­tion hopes alive.

The Brit then took full advantage of a crash near the front of the peloton on Thursday, capitalisi­ng on the absence of Van Aert from the front of the race. He powered his way to the line and raised his hands aloft, taking the stage win and outsprinti­ng a poorly positioned Mark Cavendish in the process.

Another second place followed on Friday as he held onto the leader’s jersey despite a third win for Van Aert. But the Belgian sensation proved to have just a little too much on the final day, pipping Hayter to the overall victory by just six seconds.

Speaking to ITV4 after the final stage, the Olympic silver medallist said: “A bit disappoint­ed to lose on the last day. But I can be very happy with this week with winning the team time trial, the stage in Manchester... and second overall is pretty good.

“He (Van Aert) has won four stages, so fair enough he wins the general classifica­tion to be honest.”

It is a testament to how far Hayter has come in only his second season with Ineos that a stage victory and second overall at the Tour of Britain can elicit words like “disappoint­ed”.

All in all, he has won eight races this year – two at Vuelta a Andalucía, one at Coppi e Bartali, one at the Volta ao Algarve and two apiece in the Tours of Norway and Britain. That’s more race victories in 2021 than any other World Tour rider under 23 years of age, excluding Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar.

The fact that these superb few months for Hayter have come around the Olympics – a time when every sporting achievemen­t is scrambling for column inches – has meant his incredible form has gone somewhat under the radar.

But it is important to stress that this is a rider who can go as far as he wants to in the sport.

With the world championsh­ips in less than two weeks time , both he and Pidcock will be hoping to cap breakout seasons with stellar displays in Flanders.

Pidcock. Walls. Hayter. Wright. This British quartet are all yet to experience their 24th birthdays, but they are well and truly competing with the best.

Want your views to be included in The Independen­t Daily Edition letters page? Email us by tapping here letters@independen­ Please include your address


 ?? (SWpix) ?? Hayter won stage five of the Tour of Britain and finished second overa ll
(SWpix) Hayter won stage five of the Tour of Britain and finished second overa ll
 ?? (Getty) ?? Wa ll s ( l eft) and Hayter (right) c l aimed si l ver in the madison at the Tokyo Ol ympic Games
(Getty) Wa ll s ( l eft) and Hayter (right) c l aimed si l ver in the madison at the Tokyo Ol ympic Games
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom