The 21-year-old British rider, who won the U23 version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year had a contract with DSM for this season but according to the Dutch team Hayter wanted to move into the WorldTour before 2023, a move which the team flatly refused.
Axel Merckx’s U23 team had a free spot after American rider Samuel Janisch decided not to carry on with his racing career at the end of 2021. While a contract has yet to be signed between Hayter and Axeon, a deal has been agreed with terms expected to be completed on Monday evening.
“We had one of our guys decide that he wanted to go back to school. He didn’t want to pursue cycling and I totally respect that. At the same time, I got a message that Leo might be available,” Merckx told Cyclingnews.
“I said that if he did become free then I would hire him right away because it’s a perfect situation for me and the team. Until then it was up to his agent and DSM to finalise if he was free of contract. It’s a great trade, and we’re really excited to have him on the team."
According to DSM the rider had been looking to secure a WorldTour contract but the team were unwilling to do so before 2023.
“We were not going to offer Leo a WorldTour contract before 2023, so we gave Leo the freedom to search elsewhere for that,” the team told Cyclingnews in a statement sent out on Monday.
“As a result we asked him to give up his place on the Development program for 2022 so that a spot could become available for us to recruit a new young talent."
Along with his win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Hayter won a stage and finished 12th overall in Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste. He also won the U23 British national time trial championships in August. His brother Ethan rides for Ineos Grenadiers.
DMS have an unrivalled history when it comes to releasing riders mid-way through their contracts. Just last month Tiesj Benoot was allowed to break his contract and move to Jumbo-Visma. That followed a messy split between the team and Ilan Van Wilder, who has since moved to QuickStep, while a year ago Marc Hirschi was given permission to break his contract and move to UAE Team Emirates.
Marcel Kittel kicked off the trend with a move to Etixx-QuickStep in 2016, with Warren Barguil leaving for Fortuneo-Oscaro (now Arkéa-Samsic) in 2018.
Edward Theuns moved back to Trek-Segafredo after just a short stint at the team, with Tom Dumoulin broke his contract two years early in order to sign for Jumbo-Visma. Michael Matthews left with a year still on his contract to re-join Team BikeExchange at the end of 2020.
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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