Sunday September 12 – Stonehaven to Aberdeen, 173km
Ethan Hayter said his first experience of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain had “exceeded all expectations” despite surrendering the race lead to rival Wout van Aert on the very final day.
Hayter, 22, had gone into Sunday’s eighth and final stage from Stonehaven to Aberdeen holding a slender four-second advantage over the Belgian classics specialist, one of the top riders in the world. But with 10 bonus seconds on offer to the stage winner, there was always the possibility it could come down to one final bunch sprint.
So it proved, but it was Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) who took the win – his fourth of the week, beating André Greipel (Israel Start-up Nation) and Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) to the line, while Hayter could only finish 11th, his worst finish position of the week.
That meant Van Aert won the overall classification by six seconds from Hayter, with Deceuninck-Quick Step’s world champion Julian Alaphilippe third overall at 27 seconds.
Hayter, though, said he could not complain. “The race has exceeded expectations for me, and I think a lot of people as well, so I couldn’t have asked for any better really,” said the Ineos Grenadiers rider, who took a silver medal in the Madison at the recent Olympics. “Well I could have, if Van Aert didn’t win. But other than that…
“I’m a bit disappointed obviously to lose on the last day but I can be very happy with this week. With winning the team time trial and the stage in Manchester, finishing second between Van Aert and Alaphilippe is pretty good.”
Van Aert’s four stage wins equalled the record for a Tour of Britain in the modern era. The Belgian looks in excellent shape as he prepares to try to win the world title on home roads in Flanders later this month. Van Aert, who took silver in the Olympic road race in Tokyo shortly after winning mountain, time trial and sprint stages at the Tour de France, will be among the favourites. He thanked the British public for their support of the race.
“It was really nice to see and really cool for me to explore the enthusiasm of British crowds,” he said. “There were so many people on the side of the road – I really missed that in the last couple of years because of Covid.”
Stage seven: Hayter predicts overall title will go down to final sprint
Saturday September 11 – Hawick to Edinburgh, 194.8km
Ethan Hayter predicted it could come down to a final bunch sprint on Sunday between himself and Wout van Aert as he attempts to seal what would be a sensational home victory at the AJ Bell Tour of Britain.
Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) has been swapping the blue leader’s jersey with Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) – one of the biggest stars in professional cycling – for most of the eight-day race. Van Aert – who performed an extraordinary hat-trick at this year’s Tour de France when he won a mountain stage on Mont Ventoux, an individual time trial and the final bunch sprint on the Champs-Élysées – has won three stages to Hayter’s two. But it is the 22-year-old Briton who leads the general classification by four seconds heading into the final final stage from Stonehaven to Aberdeen.
Hayter said he expected the final stage to come down to a bunch sprint, and with bonus seconds on offer to the top three finishers – 10, six and four respectively – he may have to win it if he wants to be sure of ending the day in blue.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow and it’s more likely to be a bunch sprint, with more teams interested,” he mused. “So it might come down to a sprint between me and Wout. It’d be nice to try and win the stage.”
If he can pull it off, it would be by far the biggest win of Hayter’s road career to date. The Londoner is a world champion and an Olympic silver medallist on the track, but the biggest road win on his CV at present came at last month’s Tour of Norway.
The Tour of Britain would be a considerable step up, not least because he is fighting against Van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), the reigning world champion and a former winner of the race. Alaphilippe sits in third place heading into the final stage, 21 seconds behind Hayter who would become one of only three British riders to win his home race in the modern era if he can finish the job. Since 2004, only Sir Bradley Wiggins (2013) and Steve Cummings (2016) have won the Tour of Britain.
Hayter sounded confident ahead of his final test. “Today was relaxed in terms of stressing about fighting for position but was still full-on with a good amount of climbing and small roads,” he said after finishing sixth on stage seven from Hawick to Edinburgh, one place ahead of Van Aert who was awarded the same time.
“A good breakaway went. We were quite happy with it – the nearest guy was five minutes down on GC [general classification] – and to be honest we’d have needed another team to help, so we decided just to hold them at a point where we’d keep the GC. Richie [Porte] and Owain [Doull] rode all day and were really strong.
The stage was won by Belgium’s Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) who beat American Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) into second place with Britain’s Matt Gibson (Ribble-Weldtite) third. The trio had been part of the breakaway on a day that featured some stunning backdrops.
“It was a really nice day with nice scenery and it’s good to keep the jersey going into tomorrow,” Hayter concluded.
Stage six: Hayter retains narrow lead ahead of Van Aert
Friday September 10 – Carlisle to Gateshead, 198km
Ethan Hayter continued his remarkable run of form at the AJ Bell Tour of Britain on Friday, finishing second on stage six, just behind Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert, to maintain his slender race lead. Afterwards the 22 year-old said it was “pretty cool” to find himself still sprinting alongside established superstars of the sport such as van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) so deep into a stage race.
Hayter has long been tipped to rise to the top. The Londoner, who learnt his craft at Herne Hill velodrome and recently took silver in the Madison in Tokyo alongside housemate Matt Walls, was once described as “the next Bradley Wiggins” by his GB track team mate, the triple Olympic champion Ed Clancy. In other words, a pursuiter who can also excel on the road.
Wiggins was never able to sprint like Hayter. The Ineos rider has already won two sprints this week and finished Friday’s stage in the shadow of the Angel of the North sandwiched between van Aert – one of the strongest riders in the world and the winner on the Champs Elysees at this year’s Tour de France – and world champion Alaphilippe. It is some company to be keeping. The sprint came at the end of a run from Carlisle which saw the day’s breakaway, including Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), build a four-minute lead over the peloton before the race came back together.
Van Aert’s extra bonus seconds for winning the stage saw him slash Hayter’s lead in half but it was not enough to wrestle the blue leader’s jersey back off the Briton. With two stages remaining, Hayter leads by four seconds. Alaphilippe is a further 28 seconds back.
“It was obviously a pretty hard day all day,” Hayter said. “Hilly and with a strong breakaway which took a while to go.
“It really kicked off with 15km to go – there was a short climb and Van Aert opened it up and the race was in pieces. Carlos [team mate Carlos Rodriguez] did a really good job to set a tempo and start to put people off attacking. He was so strong so it was really good. It came down to a sprint in the end. He (van Aert) was just stronger today.
“I was quite happy with second today. I was on the limit at one stage, so to be able to sprint with Van Aert and Alaphilippe is pretty cool. Second is not too bad.”
Saturday’s penultimate stage is a 195km effort from Hawick to Edinburgh before tomorrow’s finale into Aberdeen.
Stage five: Hayter pounces to reclaim lead as Van Aert is held up
Thursday September 9 – Alderley Park to Warrington, 152km
Ethan Hayter underlined his growing reputation as one of Britain’s most talented up-and-coming riders by reclaiming the lead of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain in stunning fashion on Thursday.
The 22 year-old Ineos Grenadier, who won a silver medal in the Madison at the Tokyo Olympics alongside house mate Matt Walls, won his second stage of the race, and his second sprint of the race, on stage five from Alderley Park to Warrington, in the process snatching the blue leader’s jersey back from the man who took it off him on Wednesday: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
Hayter was a little fortunate that van Aert got caught up behind a crash involving Hayter’s team mate Owain Doull on the final corner with around 700metres remaining. Hayter only narrowly avoided it himself. But from there, he “put it in his biggest gear and went as hard as he could”, outsprinting some big names in the process including European champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-NextHash) and Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step), the latter of whom was also distanced after the crash and had to expend energy bridging back to the leaders.
That will not bother Hayter, who became the first British winner of a stage of the Tour of Britain since Ian Stannard in 2018, and is now only three stages from winning by far the biggest stage race of his career.
Hayter leads van Aert by eight seconds and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) by 19 seconds heading into stage six, which crosses the Pennines from Carlisle to Gatesehead, finishing alongside Sir Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.
“I woke up this morning and it was actually the best I had felt all race,” said the Londoner, who won the recent Tour of Norway. “I had a cold last week so I came into it not feeling amazing and obviously everyone knows Wout van Aert won on the Champs-Elysees [in the Tour de France] so he is one of the fastest guys. Then there’s Cav, Nizzolo and all these people. [But] I took six bonus seconds the other day by winning the sprint there and obviously it was a completely different stage, so I knew there was a chance.”
Hayter said he would do his best to hang on to the jersey over the next three days, which feature classics-style racing which could see splits in the bunch.
“I think the time bonuses can still come into play and there’s a lot of hard racing still to go. It might not come down to time bonuses in the end; there could be big gaps tomorrow and a couple of the days after that, so it’s going to be interesting. We will just do what we can.”
Stage four: Van Aert outsprints Alaphilippe to regain lead
Wednesday September 8 – Aberaeron to Great Orme, 210km
Wout van Aert reclaimed the lead of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain in thrilling fashion on Wednesday, passing world champion Julian Alaphilippe on the line at the end of a brutal ascent of Great Orme just outside Llandudno to win the queen stage of the race.
Van Aert began stage four – which was 210km long and featured over 3,000m of vertical ascent – trailing Britain’s Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) by 16 seconds in the general classification.
But with 10 bonus points on offer to the winner, and a nasty final climb featuring ramps of up to 20 per cent, there was always the possibility that the Belgian might be able to snatch back the blue jersey he won on stage one if he could create enough distance between himself and Hayter on the final climb. That was exactly what he did.
Van Aert followed an attack from Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) on the lower slopes to stay in position and then later, when Alaphilippe started his sprint, he was able to follow the Frenchman and sprint past him on the line.
Behind them, Hayter rode cannily, at his own tempo, aware he had a bit of a buffer to play with. It was not quite enough. Despite rejoining the leaders with a few hundred metres to go to the line, their final acceleration did for him and the 22-year-old was able to finish only fifth, eight seconds behind Van Aert. What with the 10 bonus seconds he took on the line, that was enough to put the Jumbo-Visma rider into the overall lead by two seconds from Hayter and by 11 seconds from Alaphilippe.
Van Aert said he rated it as one of his best wins, not for the prestige of the race but for the manner in which he executed it.
“It was painful for two kilometres”, Van Aert said. “At the bottom of the final climb it was very steep. I set myself the goal to survive that tricky part. We knew Alaphilippe and Woods would be the biggest competitors today. When I was in the wheel of those guys, I knew I could rely on my sprint.
“I was also thinking about the general classification. When Julian attacked, I put in a good sprint. This was a very nice finish. I put this victory high on my list. It may not be the biggest race I have won, but I will be happy with the way I did it for a long time. I am very happy with this victory.”
It promises to be a thrilling second half of the race with Van Aert, Hayter and Alaphilippe separated by such small margins.
Stage five on Thursday will take the peloton 152.2km from Alderley Park to Warrington, and could offer a first opportunity for Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) to go for a stage win.
There are then two classics-style stages as the race heads north into Scotland before Sunday’s finish in Aberdeen.
Stage three: Hayter grabs lead as Ineos Grenadiers win team time trial
Tuesday September 7 – Llandeilo to National Botanic Garden of Wales, 18.2km (team time trial)
Home rider Ethan Hayter grabbed the lead of the AJ Bell Tour of Britain as Ineos Grenadiers took victory in a sweltering team time trial in Carmarthenshire.
Hayter, 22, began the day 26 seconds behind the American Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling), the surprise winner of stage two in Devon. In reality, though, it was always going to be a battle between Ineos Grenadiers and fellow WorldTour heavyweights Jumbo-Visma and Deceuninck-Quick Step, who have Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe leading for them respectively this week.
And it was Ineos Grenadiers, with Australians Rohan Dennis and Richie Porte, both notable time trialists, in their ranks, who came out on top, setting a time of 20:22 on the 18.2km course from Llandeilo to the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
That was 17 seconds faster than Deceuninck-Quick Step managed and 20 seconds faster than Jumbo-Visma who actually did very well to limit their losses having begun the day with only five riders.
Jumbo-Visma lost one rider early and also had to contend with a late puncture for Pascal Eenkhoorn in the final few hundred metres, the other three riders having to slow to wait for him as the team’s time was taken when the fourth rider crossed the line.
Carpenter and Rally Cycling finished way down the rankings, meaning Hayter assumed the blue leader’s jersey and now leads the general classification by six seconds from team mate Dennis, by 16 seconds from Van Aert and by 23 seconds from Alaphilippe.
“I think all six riders gave everything and pulled off a really good team time trial and that’s really satisfying,” said Hayter, who won a silver medal at the recent Olympics in the Madison and whose burgeoning career has now seen him wear the leader’s jersey at every road race he has entered since the Tour of the Algarve in May.
The only one of those races that Hayter actually went on to win was the recent Tour of Norway, and the 22 year-old said it would be “super tough” to win again this week up against the might of Van Aert and Alaphilippe, especially with small six-man teams.
“It’s really hard to control as Jumbo-Visma showed [on Monday, when Van Aert lost the leader’s jersey],” Hayter said. “So we’re up against it. But it’s better to be up 16 seconds than behind 16 seconds.”
Stage two: Carpenter wins from break to take overall lead
Monday September 6 – Sherford to Exeter, 184km
Ethan Hayter has moved up to third overall after two stages of the Tour of Britain. The British rider, who is in good form having claimed silver in the Madison at the recent Olympics before following that up with victory at the Tour of Norway, claimed second place on a stunning second stage from Sherford to Exeter on Monday, which took in parts of the South Hams and Dartmoor National Park.
Robin Carpenter of Rally Cycling was the surprise winner of the Devon stage of the race. Carpenter was the last survivor from the day’s five-man breakaway, holding off the fast-closing peloton to become the first American ever to win a stage of the Tour of Britain.
Carpenter dropped breakaway companion Jacob Scott (Canyon dhb SunGod) with 25km remaining to take the victory by 33 seconds over British duo Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) and Alex Peters (Swift Carbon Pro Cycling).
The 29 year-old Philadelphian now leads the general classification by 22 seconds from stage one winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), with Hayter a further four seconds back heading into Tuesday’s team time trial in Carmarthenshire. “I was falling apart at the end but I made sure to be falling apart by myself,” Carpenter explained. “In the end leading the overall is great and it’s a big bonus but we’ll see about making it through the team time trial tomorrow with my team-mates.”
Jumbo-Visma will also be anxious to see how they fare in the team time trial. Eyebrows were raised when the Dutch team failed to chase down the breakaway and keep Van Aert in the leader’s jersey. They later explained that having lost Australian Chris Harper to a crash in the opening kilometres they were unable and unwilling to do all the work on their own, especially with Van Aert prioritising the world road championships in Flanders later this month.
“Everyone was looking at us and we couldn’t and didn’t want to do it alone,” explained sports director Frans Maassen. “That’s racing. Wout has to leave this race with a good feeling and he made a good start.
“A good team time trial is crucial for a good classification,” Maassen added. “So it is even more disappointing that Chris is no longer riding. Tomorrow we really wanted to show ourselves. The changes we had to make earlier were already not in our favour. We’ll have to see how far we get with five motivated riders in the team.”
Stage one: Van Aert sprints into lead with opening salvo
Sunday September 5 – Penzance to Bodmin, 180.8km
Wout van Aert sprinted to victory on the opening stage of the Tour of Britain on Sunday.
Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), one of the big favourites for a race being held for the first time since 2019, timed his jump to perfection in Bodmin to win the final uphill battle, with Ethan Hayter the best-placed British rider in fourth.
The Belgian had sat on the wheel of the world champion Julian Alaphilippe – whose Deceuninck-Quick Step team, which includes Mark Cavendish, had done the lion’s share of the work in bringing back the day’s break – before attacking his rival with a few hundred metres to go, holding off the challenge of Nils Eekhoff (DSM), Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar) and Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers). Alaphilippe, who won the race in 2018, finished in a group two seconds behind.
The pair are likely to battle it out for the general classification this week, although both are using the race as preparation for the road world championships in Flanders later this month. Van Aert suggested he would see the lie of the land midway through the race before deciding whether to go all in for the overall. “It’s a really important race and a nice race to do, but on the other hand, I’m here to try and race into the best legs possible going into the worlds,” he said. “We’ll see after stage four what’s possible.”
Monday’s stage is a tough one from Sherford to Exeter, taking in Devon’s South Hams and the Dartmoor National Park. There is then a team time trial in Carmarthenshire before the queen stage of the race, which finishes in Llandudno.
“The team time-trial is important given the reputation the team [Jumbo-Visma] has in time trials,” Van Aert said. “On stage four we have the queen stage, so I’m definitely focusing on that one, and then afterwards we’ll see where my position is in the GC [general classification].”
Hayter, who took silver in the Madison at the Olympics, said he was pleased with fourth after coming down in an early pile-up.
“I was a little bashed up,” he confessed, crediting his team-mates with delivering him to the foot of the final uphill sprint.
“I followed Alaphilippe and when he slowed, I hesitated because I didn’t think I had the legs to go from there, and I got jumped. But hopefully that opens me up for the rest of the week.”