Winner of the Under 23 Giro d’Italia or ‘Baby Giro’ Leo Hayter will form a two-pronged attack on the general classification (GC) at the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir alongside new Jumbo-Visma rider Tom Gloag.
Racing begins in France today and the pair will spearhead one of the strongest British teams at the U23 race in years.
The Tour de l’Avenir features nine stages. This year’s route features a team time trial as well as summit finishes at climbs such as La Toussuire, which has previously been used in the Tour de France.
Earlier this year, Hayter won the U23 Giro d’Italia convincingly, winning two stages in the mountains on the way to overall victory.
When asked about Hayter’s chances Great Britain coach, Matt Brammeier, told Cycling Weekly: “Once you get into those high mountains you need the legs to win and it’s going to be who’s got it and who hasn’t. We’ve got the added advantage of Tom Gloag being in the squad who’s a favourite himself.
“We’ve got a two-pronged attack for the GC, then we’ve got the option of Sam [Watson] for stages. It’s a very competitive team all around.”
The strength in depth was also acknowledged by Hayter. “It’s always best to have options,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen in a stage race, especially under-23 races. There are the six plus stages before we hit the mountains. Either way, whether it’s me helping him [Gloag] or him helping me, it’s always best to have more riders in the mountains.”
Gloag was third overall at last year’s race before concussion sustained in a crash forced him to withdraw. Brammeier added: “We’ve got a point to prove and unfinished business out there.”
A list of prestigious names have won the U23 French stage race. The list includes former Tour de France winner Greg Lemond, five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain and Egan Bernal, who has won both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.
The 20-year-old Londoner recently signed as a stagiaire with Ineos Grenadiers and will turn professional with the team next season alongside his brother Ethan. He admitted that the guarantee of a first pro contract means the pressure is now off.
Hayter added: “At the Giro I had absolutely no pressure on me and wasn’t even meant to be at the race. When I can race with freedom and without overthinking things I can usually do something quite special.”
When asked if he feels he might now be a marked man because of that success he said: “To be honest, no. Yes, I won the U23 Giro but there are a plethora of pro riders who will be there. Other guys who have won big races are there so it’s going to be pretty open.”
Groupama-FDJ rider Sam Watson is another rider who made the final cut, adding to arguably the strongest Great Britain line-up for the Tour de l’Avenir in years. Brammeier believes that the team is right to go into the race full of self-belief.
On the team’s opportunity to land an overall victory, Brammeier concluded: “We’re in with a chance, that’s all I can say. I’ve got no worries or concerns going into it, we’ve got a very good team and we’re full of motivation and ambition really.”
GREAT BRITAIN’S TOUR DE L’AVENIR SQUAD
Leo Hayter – Hagens Berman Axeon
Thomas Gloag – Trinity Racing
Samuel Watson – Groupama-FDJ Continental
Bob Donaldson- GB Senior Academy
Josh Giddings- GB Senior Academy
Jack Brough- GB Senior Academy