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Ethan Hayter denied rare domestic triple as new breed animates British nationals

Gen-Z shines in Brit nationals as Pfeiffer Georgi wins women’s road race and Hayter confirms credentials as UK's 'next big thing' with two gold medals.

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A 33-year-old veteran won the British national title this weekend, but it was the young whippersnappers that stole the show.

The “next big thing” of British cycling Ethan Hayter was edged out of a historic triple when he finished third in the road race, just a few gasping seconds away from a golden hat trick after winning the time trial and critérium titles in the day before.

Ineos Grenadiers “oldie” Ben Swift scored the British stripes ahead of Hayter in Sunday’s classics-style race through Lincoln to defend his 2019 crown, but Hayter was just one of a deep well of rising British talents that animated the weekend of racing.

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Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) led home a pack of riders aged 22 or younger to win the women’s title at the age of just 21, with  World Hour record holder Joss Lowden the one pre-Insta-era rider to break the top-6.

Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious, 22), Harry Tanfield (Qhubeka NextHash, 26), and Lewis Askey (Groupama FDJ development, 20) punched into the top-6 in the men’s race. It was like balance bike racing gone big.

Georgi follows a long line of British greats to have won the national title, and like leading lights Lizzie Deignan, Hannah Barnes, and Laura Trott before her, she did it while in the dawn of her pro career.

“I honestly can’t believe it. I was just crossing the line shaking my head,” she told The British Continental website. “Just realizing that I get to wear the [national champions] jersey for a year, that was pretty special.”

Is Georgi’s victory a portent of things to come? Stay tuned.

No hat trick needed to herald Hayter

Hayter came to within a few meters of a rare triple of British national titles Sunday.

Retired ace Steve Cummings is the only male rider in the last decade to win both the national and time trial championships in the same year. The TT-Criterium-road race sweep has never been netted in that time.

After storming the time trial and nighttime critérium, all-eyes were on Hayter to dominate the hilly, cobbled race Sunday.

After missing the key split before fighting back to finish third, Hayter couldn’t complete his golden triple. However, his two other national jerseys and a gutsy late chase in the road race proved enough – the young Grenadier stands up alongside Tom Pidcock – who was not racing this weekend – as Britain’s present and future.

Hayter emerged seemingly from nowhere this year.

A 2020 season torpedoed by unfulfilled Olympic preparation and the COVID pandemic left Hayter short of race days and under the radar. However, a gold medal in the Olympic Omnium, a haul of stage-race successes and a toe-to-toe tussle with Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe at the Tour of Britain rubberstamped the Londoner as Ineos Grenadier’s latest legend-in-the-making.

Riders that put British racing on the map like Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome have been quietly fading from view while Hayter and Pidcock have run riot. A resurgent Mark Cavendish is the odd-one-out in the country’s old guard.

Defending champion and stalwart of the UK scene Swift had shown little this year until Sunday’s race, but after animating the lead group, the 33-year-old had the tactical advantage as Hayter chased hard behind the front trio.

“It was going to be difficult with two of us,” Swift said.

“I’ve worked with Ethan a lot this season, and I’ve seen how talented he is and how much of an outstanding year he’s had and what a career he’s going to have in the future. But it was nice to keep this jersey off his shoulders, I know he already had the other two!”

“Having a teammate like Ethan – who was the strongest guy in the race – coupled with my experience, meant we worked pretty well together.”

Wisened experience won the day in Sunday’s men’s race, but it felt an anomaly in a weekend of surging young male and female talent.

Although some big names skipped this year’s delayed nationals after a long and arduous season, Britain’s Gen-Z future didn’t need to wait for an invite to fill their cleats. Hayter, Georgi, new elite time trial champion Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) and U23 winner Anna Shackley (SD Worx) didn’t need to wait for an invite to step up.

Britain’s pro racing future is now.