Same, same but different: Leo Hayter is targeting big GC wins as he forges a different success story to brother Ethan

Wins at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour of Brittany and the U23 time trial nationals have elevated his standing

Leo Hayter
(Image credit: Getty)

Being the brother of one of cycling's emerging superstars will always prompt questions about similarities and differences. It's unfair, really, for what one brother does doesn't necessarily affect what the other does.

But Leo Hayter's fine with it. Partly because he's no doubt accepted the line of questioning will perpetuate in the coming years, but mainly because he isn't a replica of Ethan's skillset. 

Ineos Grenadiers' Ethan is national time trial champion, and Leo is the U23 champion in the discipline, while both have a background in track racing, but that's where the comparability starts to end.

"I think it's quite obvious already that we're different riders," the 20-year-old, whose  autumn sequence of victories included winning the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, tells Cycling Weekly. "I would never be winning a bunch sprint at the Tour of Britain, but he wouldn't win the U23 Liège. In general I think we're quite different.

"Of course there are similarities physiologically, and we have a similar height, but he's a lot heavier and muscular than I am and he gets that from the track because he still does it and I haven't since 2019. He also has a better kick.

"But I can climb longer than he can and climb better overall. We'll find out more this year if we race against each other more often."

The probability is they will add to their racing battles that at the moment has been limited to just the Tour of Norway, that Ethan won, the Coppi e Bartali, and the National Championships. Leo quips: "Ethan outdid me in Norway - I've got to play catch up."

But they won't really start to duel against one another on a regular basis until 2023 when Leo hopes and expects to be on a WorldTour team. 

He has bucked the modern trend of becoming a pro earlier than what was once normal and chosen to stay with Development Team DSM for a third season, saying that "the main reason was I don't think I am 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't be content with just being present there; he's going to win and is focusing much more on his time trialling this winter to give him an upper hand on his competitors.

>>> Ethan Hayter could win a Grand Tour, says British Cycling junior coach who guided upcoming golden generation

"At Liège, the winner of l'Avenir [Tobias Halland Johannessen] was there," he remembers. "I know I can climb pretty well, and from my numbers I can be up there with the best. It's a matter of doing it on the day.

"The main thing I took from Liège was confidence. I always knew I had the power to be one of the best U23 riders - I see it in training, every time I do a maximal effort - and that was the proof I needed. The proof of the pudding, if you like.

"I needed that win to solidify where I thought I should be and where I was at that moment.

"Unless everything goes wrong, the plan is to go pro in 2023. It's nice knowing though that I still have one more year as a cushion at U23 if I need another year. I don't think I will though."

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