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TAVIRA, Portugal (VN) — Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) was a distant but respectable third in the long 32.2km time trial at the Volta ao Algarve after a masterclass in racing against the clock from stage winner Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).
Hayter, who is slowly coming back from a January case of COVID-19, set a time 1:06 down on Evenepoel, with Sefan Küng (Groupama FDJ) in second. The result moved Hayter from third to second overall and behind Evenepoel ahead of Sunday’s final crunch stage to the summit at Milhao.
While Hayter moved up to second, Brandon McNulty slipped down a spot. The American finished fifth on the stage at 1:25 and heads into the last day of the race clinging onto his podium place by just five seconds.
As expected, overnight leader David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) fell apart over the tough course and dropped to ninth, but Hayter cut a relatively pleased figure at the finish as he scanned through the results on a team staffer’s phone.
“I had quite a tough day out there. I think that with the last few days, missing a bit of base training and doing two stage races in a row, I’ve been getting better, but I had heavy legs today. I struggled to get the effort out of my legs. Then with the sun in my eyes at the end I didn’t want to take any risks. Third is still pretty good,” Hayter said.
The British rider finished second overall in the race last year and enjoyed a stellar 2021 with a string of victories and standout performances.
He was second in the 7.1km prologue at the Tour de la Provence earlier in February but his GC hopes coming into Algarve were unclear due to his health setbacks.
He was third on the mountain finish to Foia on stage 2 and his third on Saturday gives him a fighting chance to finish on the overall podium for a second year in a row. At the finish in Tavira he asked whether the longer trials suited him or if he preferred the shorter format that he raced on at Provence.
“The long time trials suit me. For the British nationals I did a low more power for 20 more minutes so enjoy these long time trials with some kicks in them but I didn’t quite have the legs today, which was kind of expected,” he said.
“There was a long section where I thought that I was going quite slow. So to be a minute down, I’m not that surprised to be honest. It’s quite expected.”
Hayter isn’t the only Ineos Grenadiers rider with a strong chance of making the podium on Sunday.
Daniel Martinez turned in a solid seventh placed finish on the stage, while Dylan van Baarle was 11th. Martinez rose three places to fourth in the overall and is now just five seconds behind American Brandon McNulty who dropped to third overall.