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ÉCHALLENS, Switzerland (VN) — Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) responded in the best possible way after his mistake on stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie with a convincing win on stage 2 to Échallens. The British rider has now taken two WorldTour wins in three days after also winning the prologue, and although his overall ambitions at the race are over, the young British rider continues to go from strength to strength.
Hayter should have been in the mix on stage 1, to be fair, but he admitted that he was caught napping at the back of the bunch and when a crash occurred with around 15km to go the British rider found himself on the deck and out of contention. That episode cost him the race lead, and he was lucky to escape serious injury, but amends were made on Thursday.
After crossing the line he immediately thanked his teammates — both personally and publicly — through the media.
“I owe that one to my team,” he told VeloNews.
“Anyone watching, that’s one of the nicest victories that I’ve got, I think. We took it on perfectly and it doesn’t get better than that. In all the crucial corners I was in the top-10 all the time. I did well.
“I’m a bit lost for words, to be honest. My teammates did everything and I just did everything. I’m really happy. We all lost each other in the final, and I was quite far back. I actually unclipped at one [point] because someone took my front wheel out. I lost the guys but somehow I came back. I almost got swamped but I knew that it would open up on the left even though it was more effort in the wind. Magnus Sheffield was going and I was trying to hold on as long as possible,” said Hayter.
It’s unclear if words were said internally after Hayter was caught out on stage 1 through poor positioning, or if Hayter was responding to criticism that may have been directed his way via social media, but his victory celebration when he crossed the line in Échallens saw him put a finger to his lips. It was a gesture in response to something that had happened.
We’ve seen that victory celebration in cycling before, most recently with Matej Mohorič’s puzzling choice of actions in the Tour de France last year. This wasn’t related in terms of circumstances or subject, with Hayter playing down the significance when asked about the topic in his post-race press conference.
“I think that someone joked saying that I should do it,” he said.
“It was a comeback to yesterday after crashing. I thought that it was quite funny as I crossed the line with the emotions. I thought it was funny.”
The British rider did disclose that he had made an error during the previous stage with his positioning towards the back of the peloton. Still just 23 years old and in his third season at the WorldTour level, Hayter is still learning the ropes but taking responsibility for his actions doesn’t appear to be an issue for the young rider.
“At some stages in the race you don’t have to be right near the front and I was trying to save energy. At some stages in the race, you do need to be at the front and it’s not always that easy to get back there. That was my mistake yesterday and I obviously paid for it. I got lucky in that my injuries weren’t worse and I made amends today, I think.”