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Tour de Romandie stage win is ‘confirmation of what I’m capable of,’ says Hayter

‘I hope to do my first grand tour this year but I don’t know which one it will be yet’ says Ineos's Romandie leader.

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (VN) — Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) scored his first career WorldTour win on Tuesday with a blistering prologue at the Tour de Romandie. The 23-year-old edged out former teammate Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) to also take the first leader’s jersey in this year’s race.

For Hayter, who has enjoyed a promising career since turning pro with Ineos in 2020, the victory was a landmark moment in his career. The British rider talked of ‘confirmation’ when he was asked about the significance of the win by VeloNews.

“I’ve not done so many races in the WorldTour actually, I think I honestly did five or six in total last year. Paris-Nice was my first WorldTour stage race and I was still building my form there. This is really nice and I think that it’s confirmation of what I’m capable of,” he said.

“To be honest it’s not that much of a surprise,” he said when he was asked about another journalist about beating Dennis – a former world time trial champion – and his team leader Geraint Thomas, who was fourth.

“I knew that I was capable of it on a good day. Last year I was top ten in the worlds, and top ten in Paris-Nice. This is a bit of a step up but I knew that I would be close.”

“I think that we were lucky with the weather after seeing rain yesterday and this morning but it turned out to be nice. I made a good effort and I’m happy with how the race went. I think that it’s expected that I’ll struggle in the last road stage but we have options in the team. This is a nice way to start.”

Hayter’s win certainly boosts his chances of lining up for Ineos Grenadiers at a grand tour in 2022. He was never on the long-list for the Giro d’Italia, but there is an outside chance of a Tour de France spot. Most likely, at this point in the season, is that he will make his three-week debut at the Vuelta a Espana in the late summer.

“I was never meant to do the Giro, but it kept coming up. I hope to do my first grand tour this year but I don’t know which one it will be yet,” he said.

Whether he races the Tour or the Vuelta, the fact is that Hayter is part of a young block of talent within Ineos that has stepped up massively this year. Magnus Sheffield and Luke Plapp have been immense at almost every turn, and Sheffield finished 13th in the prologue, but Hayter is currently ahead of them in terms of experience and pro wins. Given that he was struggling for form and fitness Hayter will be delighted with his current position. Romandie could well be a pivotal week in his season and perhaps his career for the coming few years.

“I had a slow start. I had COVID in January and it took a while to come back from that. I’ve just been getting better with time. I had a break from racing, I missed the classics, which was a bit of a shame but I did a big block of training and it worked well for me so far. Tomorrow or the next couple of stages could be good for me so we’ll see how it goes,” he said.