Leo Hayter says valuable time trial lessons learned from his brother Ethan helped him secure the bronze medal in the men’s Under-23 time trial World Championships while learning to return from some tough life experiences helped him win the Giro Baby earlier this year.
Hayter is the first Giro Baby winner also to win a medal in the U23 time trial world championships but his season has not been easy. He has secured a place at Ineos Grenadiers alongside his brother for next season but is still trying to understand where his talents lie.
“I’m quite satisfied to be honest, this is my first international time trial for two years, so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a leap into the unknown, to see where I rank at this level,” he explained post-race.
“For my kind of style of racing, it's not a great course, it needed a number of efforts rather than one that was long and sustained. But I kind of enjoyed it. You could lose or gain on the corners. That’s a weakness for me but I did my best.”
Hayter won three stages and dominated the Giro Baby in June but had to fight back from COVID-19 in the spring and other issues in recent months. He did not finish the Tour de l’Avenir or leave his mark on the race after a stage 6 crash.
Last year he won the U23 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege but also took time out of the sport. He came back to win big but moved from the Team DSM development team to Hagens Berman Axeon for 2022.
“I think I struggle when things aren’t going well,” Hayter admitted bravely in Australia.
“I relapsed a little at the start of this year, then I got COVID-19 at the start of March and couldn’t train for a while, so I was really shocked by the rhythm in races. But then I ended up winning the Giro."
“It’s one of those things where you have to kind of trust that things click again and that the rhythm will come back and you’ll start doing well again. I came here and did what I could do and came away with third.”
Leo is more of a climber and stage race rider, while Ethan is a fast finisher and has more power. However, they are close and they prepared for the World Championships together.
Leo watched the video of his older brother riding in the elite time trial, sharing his disappointment after a mechanical problem cost him a chance of a medal.
“It was nice, we could both prepare the same way. We did a kind of course recon together and I could watch his race, via a video from the car. I could see what he did right. It was a nice experience,” Leo explained.
“It was hard to watch when he had the problem, he was on a good run and you never know what could have happened. But knowing he was up there and could have potentially won the race was good for me. It showed we’ve both prepared in a good way.”
Hayter will now focus on the U23 road race, probably his final event before he begins his career as a WorldTour professional with Ineos Grenadiers in 2023.
His time trial performance has increased his motivation and he will be part of a strong Great Britain team that also includes Sam Watson, Bob Donaldson, Sean Flynn and Oliver Stockwell.
“This is a big confidence boost and I’m looking forward to the road race now,” he said. “We have five guys who can win.”
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