When we interviewed Ethan Hayter back in March 2018 he had recently been a member of the victorious GB squad in the World Team Pursuit Championship on the Apeldoorn Velodrome in The Netherlands at just 19 years-of-age.
He told us then; ‘And of course there are the Tokyo Olympics by which time I’ll be 21 years-old and looking to join a World Tour team.’
We all know what happened to the Olympics, but ‘job done’ on the World Tour place – and no ‘easing in’ to it for Mr. Ethan Hayter; big race podiums in short order and now his first win, in the UCI 1.1 Giro dell’Appennino.
The promise was there early, with wins in the 2016 junior Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and GP Serge Baguet plus a European junior Team Pursuit title.
The following season he took medals in every discipline in which he competed at the British track championships – Pursuit, Team Pursuit, Points, Omnium, Scratch and Madison, winning the latter two.
He also moved up to the u23 European Team Pursuit title that year.
Season 2018 saw the European u23 and Elite Omnium titles go his way as well as two medals in the Commonwealth Games in the Team Pursuit and Points Race.
To underline his versatility there were top eight finishes in both the u23 Time Trial and Road Worlds before a spell as a stagiaire with Team Sky.
Last season saw a win in the Paris-Arras stage race, the prologue and a stage in the Baby Giro, a stage in l’Avenir and the British u23 road title.
On the track there were more British, European and World honours – with Team Pursuit silver and Omnium bronze in the latter.
This season saw him sign with Ineos and the podium came early with second in the non-too-flat Memorial Pantani and that was despite a crash in the 1.Pro Milano-Torino his second race, the first being the Gran Trittico Lombardo.
Then came ‘lockdown’ and his first race back was the European Championships in Plouay, won by Giacomo Nizzolo; Hayter finished a crash-blighted 98th but next up was the Pantani and the podium.
Since then there’s been a second and fifth place on stages of the Coppi e Bartali, third in the Giro della Toscana, ninth in the Coppa Sabatini before his landmark win in the Giro dell’Apenninno.
We kicked off by asking how he found the transition from u23 to Elite racing?
“I rode as a stagiaire with Sky but it’s strange now because when I was a u23 and when the Sky or Ineos bus arrived we’d all be a bit in awe of it but now I’m actually aboard it.
“But as I say, I rode stagiaire with Sky at the end of 2018 so knew what to expect, albeit the Trittico was hard because it was my first road race since the Tour de l’Avenir.”
What are the biggest differences you noticed when stepping up?
“Apart from the standard of the races it’s that there are more staff than riders at race; on the u23 team there are a lot less personnel and you have to fend for yourself more – but that’s as it should be, you have to be able to stand on your own two feet.”
Your crash in Milano-Torino was a bad one?
“I broke my back in three places so had to take a lot of rest as a result.
“During lockdown initially I couldn’t do much because of my back and I had tendonitis too.
“Lockdown was OK, I live with Matt Walls and Fred Wright in Manchester so once my injuries cleared up I was able to get out with them.
“Fortunately I don’t have a tendency to put weight on so that wasn’t an issue.”
So you just fly in and out to races?
“Yes, we’re in South Manchester so it’s only 10 or 15 minutes from the airport; the team takes care of all the logistics.
“I have a road and time trial bike at home so don’t have to worry about transporting bike back and forward, my suit case is pretty empty, I don’t even have to take a helmet.”
Who coaches you now, is that all down to the team?
“Conor Taylor at Ineos is my coach, he works in conjunction with the BC coaches; but I haven’t been able to do as much gym work as I would like because of the lockdown.”
Second in the Memorial Pantani?
“Yes, I surprised myself, I was back in the second group but got back up – the Astana rider, Fabio Felline got the better of me in the sprint.”
Coppi e Bartali went well for you too.
“I was second to the Jumbo Visma rider, Olav Kooij on Stage One; then we were second in the TTT to Deceuninck, that was a good result because our line-up was more a team of climbers rather than rouleurs.
“Then on stage three I was fifth but I sat up and dropped a couple of places after leading Jhonathan Narvaez out to the win – that set him up for the eventual overall win.”
Third in Toscana?
“That was down to a sprint with Gaviria winning from Robert Stannard (the Mitchelton Scott rider) – who I beat into third to win in the Appennino.”
What comes after the Worlds? [Hayter was not originally down to ride at Imola but with Matt Holmes withdrawing he gets the ride, ed.]
“I have the BinckBank Tour which is five stages with a Time Trial included; I’ve heard it’s a bit of a crazy race but I’m looking forward to it and to riding my time trial bike.
“After that I’m not sure but I think I may be in line for the ‘spring classics,’ the thing is that there are so many races crammed in that the team has a triple programme – the day the Giro starts, the BinckBank Tour finishes then the Liege-Bastogne-Liege is next day; then following weekend you have the Amstel, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Tours.
“Paris-Roubaix is on October 25th and I’d love to ride that.”
And what about your track ambitions?
“The Europeans are in Bulgaria in November, just after the road season ends whilst the Worlds have been moved again to next October so the Olympics will come first – but right now no one knows what’s going to go ahead?”
Indeed not, not all events have the political clout of the Tour de France. With thanks and best wishes to Ethan for the rest of season 2020.