Leo Hayter leaves DSM Development Team early to join Hagens Berman Axeon

British U23 time trial champion moves to American development squad after split opinion over future

Leo Hayter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Leo Hayter has left Team DSM Development Team and will join Hagens Berman Axeon.

The 21-year old British U23 time trial champion had one more year on his contract with DSM's development squad, but has left to join the American continental team run by Axel Merckx instead.

It is understood that Hayter was looking to move to the WorldTour ahead of DSM's own projection, likely in 2023. Once it was clear he was committed to moving up, something DSM did not consider aligned with their plans to keep him at a development level, he was allowed to look elsewhere for a contract by the German team.

In a statement on Monday evening, DSM said: "We were not going to offer Leo a WT contract before 2023, so we gave Leo the freedom to search elsewhere for that. 

"As a result we asked him to give up his place on the Development program for 2022 so that a spot could become available for us to recruit a new young talent."

According to reports in Cyclingnews, Hagens Berman Axeon had a free spot after American rider Samuel Janisch decided not to carry on with his racing career at the end of 2021.

The American squad said on Monday: "Leo Hayter was not in the position to already secure a professional contract with Team DSM. Team DSM wanted to make that spot available for another young talent, so Leo was therefore free to search for a new team for 2022. We are happy to add him to our roster for the new season."

Merckx, who runs the outfit, told Cyclingnews: "We had one of our guys decide that he wanted to go back to school. He didn’t want to pursue cycling and I totally respect that. At the same time, I got a message that Leo might be available.

"I said that if he did become free then I would hire him right away because it’s a perfect situation for me and the team. Until then it was up to his agent and DSM to finalise if he was free of contract. It’s a great trade, and we’re really excited to have him on the team."

At the end of last year, Hayter told Cycling Weekly that he did not think he was "ready" to be a WorldTour rider yet.

"In terms of power and numbers, for sure I could be joining this year, but it's everything else that comes with it.

"I'm not the most confident in the bunch, neither am I that confident going downhill. I want to improve them first.

"The form I had at the end of this season was great, but I missed my first year of U23 because of Covid and then I missed three months last season with problems. I've not had a full U23 season racing and I want to go to the Tour de l'Avenir and Baby Giro, get them ticked off."

Hayter won the U23 version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year, and finished 12th overall in Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste, as well as winning a stage there. His brother, Ethan, rides for Ineos Grenadiers, and the pair won both men's individual time trial events at the British Road Championships in October.

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