Speaking in a rainy Nice on Sunday, Ethan Hayter still seems quite upbeat about his first experience of a WorldTour stage race.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider might have won the Tour of Norway and finished second and the Tour of Britain last year, but Paris-Nice is his first experience of stage racing at the highest level.
Remarking that the leaden skies meant it was "quite British today", Hayter told Cycling Weekly ahead of stage eight: "It has not been a bad first Paris-Nice to be honest."
The 23-year old finished ninth on the punchy finish in Dun-le-Palestel on stage three, before he impressed on the stage four time trial, beating many more experienced riders in the process by finishing sixth, including Stefan Bissegger, who won the time trial at the UAE Tour.
While Hayter has suffered from a bit of illness this week, possibly the same bug that has been racing around the peloton, he still seems content with his efforts.
"I've had a bit of illness during the week and I've contributed to the team when I could... I don't know, it's basically just been a bit of a cold, I've had a bit of a stomach issue as well, but I've been able to carry on fine and I'm feeling alright really."
The difference between a race like the Tour of Britain and Paris-Nice is stark for the Londoner, which makes sense when all 18 WorldTour teams have sent some of their strongest riders to the race to the sun.
"The style of racing is slightly different, and it has been a good experience so far I think," Hayter explained on the south coast of France. "Obviously it's faster, and there's a few different things when the level is so high, it's quite interesting. I'd probably say it's more controlled to be honest with you, it's just fast all day.
"It's quite impressive when the level is this high."
Ahead of the final stage, Hayter was quite clear what his goal was: "We will try and win the Paris-Nice." This contrasted with Simon Yates almost giving up his chances after Saturday's stage, but his team's highest placed rider, Dani Martínez, suffered the misfortune of a puncture at a crucial juncture on the day, taking him out of contention for the overall win.
The week's highlight was surely the time trial for Hayter, with it bringing the second-best result he has achieved at WorldTour level, behind his fifth place at the Bretagne Classic last season. He finished just 14 seconds behind stage winner Wout van Aert, and eight seconds behind Rohan Dennis, the former world champion.
"The time trial was really nice," he said. "I was actually pretty close to winning with all those guys. I was top ten at the worlds last year too, but it was nice to execute a good time trial again. You keep learning each time, there's always small things you can improve, a few seconds here and there."
For now, the Briton will take his lessons from his first WorldTour stage race, and take them into his upcoming schedule, which is reported to include the Giro d'Italia.
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