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UCI Road World Championships: ‘Leap into the unknown’ nets Leo Hayter U23 TT bronze

'I’ve struggled with sickness the last few months but I came here and did what I could and I’ve come away with third,' says future Ineos Grenadiers rider.

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Leo Hayter took Great Britain’s first medal of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships on Monday with a bronze in the U23 men’s time trial.

The winner of the Baby Giro and a future Ineos Grenadiers rider, Hayter briefly held the lead in event before eventually being pushed down the leaderboard by silver medalist Alec Segaert (Belgium) and winner Søren Wærenskjold (Norway).

For Hayter, whose brother Ethan finished fourth in the elite men’s time trial on Sunday, a medal exceeded his pre-race expectations.

“This wasn’t at all what I was expecting. This is my first international time trial for three years,” he said.

“So I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve struggled with sickness the last few months but I came here and did what I could and I’ve come away with third. It was a leap into the unknown to see where I ranked at this level.”

Also read: UCI Road World Championships: Søren Wærenskjold wins U23 men’s time trial

Hayter has enjoyed a season of incredible highs and lows in 2022. He kicked off the year with COVID-19, and it took him several months to reach his top form.

That arrived in June with a commanding ride at the Baby Giro that saw him come away from the race with two stage wins and the overall title. He won the British U23 national time trial championships soon after but was unable to reach that level again until Monday’s ride in Australia.

“I struggle when things aren’t going well. I relapsed a bit at the start of this year. I got COVID at the start of March and I couldn’t train for a few months. I struggled to find a rhythm. You just have to hope that it clicks and that the rhythm will come back,” he said.

With a three-year deal at Ineos Grenadiers set to start in January 2023, Hayter has a bright future ahead of him. His primary aims as a neo-pro will be to learn from the established teammates around him, and find a level of consistency that has been missing at times.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I guess it’s going to be a big step up from where I’ve been this year,” he said. “There’s a lot more support and I hope that will help me. I’m just going to learn, and what I’ve been missing the last three years was being a consistent bike rider.

“I’ve always had a good point and a bad point in the season so if I can find a level that I can be at consistently through the year that would be a big goal for me. That’s the next step that I need to take.”

Before that, however, the 21-year-old has the small matter of the U23 road race later this week. Confidence will be high after his medal ride.

“It’s a really big confidence boost. We’ve got five guys who can win. Maybe it’s a bit too punchy for me but with good legs you can do anything.”