Great Britain Cycling Team chalked up two impressive results at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday 27 March, with podiums for British riders in both the junior and under-23 UCI Nations’ Cup events.
British Cycling Junior Academy rider Ethan Hayter scored first with a fine second place in the junior event, followed later by a great ride from Senior Academy athlete Gabriel Cullaigh that saw him contest the sprint and take a superb third place.
Results were however overshadowed by the death of Belgian rider Antoine Demoitié in the elite men’s race. The 25-year-old Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider was hit by a motorcycle following a crash involving a number of riders. British Cycling sends its deepest condolences to Antoine’s family, friends and teammates.
Hayter’s result was his third podium of the season on Belgian roads, the 17-year-old having taken the win at the junior edition of the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne sprinters’ classic before placing second at the UCI 1.1 Guido Reybrouck Classic a week prior to Gent-Wevelgem.
The VC Londres rider finished 25 seconds behind race-winner Alexys Brunel of France and just a second ahead of third-placed Swiss rider Marc Hirschi after 119 kilometres of racing starting and finishing in Ypres.
“Alexys Brunel rode well and deserved his victory,” said Hayter. “For my part, after my victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Juniors and my second place at the Guido Reybrouck Classic, I’ve taken a third podium of the season.
“My next objective is Paris-Roubaix Juniors in 15 days.”
Hayter was part of a six-man Junior Academy team sent to Belgium to gain valuable experience racing against the world’s best juniors, riding alongside Reece Wood, Etienne Georgi, Jake Stewart, Joe Nally and Rhys Britton.
For 19-year-old Cullaigh, the podium finish behind Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Anders Skaarseth was his best result since winning a stage of the UCI Nations’ Cup Course de la Paix in May 2015.
“I didn’t expect to achieve such a result on this test,” Cullaigh told Direct Velo. “I could not be happier with (this) third place.
“I decided to go out on the Kemmelberg and we finally found ourselves in a front three with Mads Pedersen and the Slovenian (David Per) after the final climb of the day. Mads was clearly the fastest.”
Cullaigh’s teammate Ollie Wood gave Great Britain Cycling Team a second rider in the top ten, the 20-year-old from Wakefield finishing seventh, 15 seconds down on the race winner.
For the under-23s, the UCI Nations’ Cup moves on to the Ronde Van Vlaanderen on Saturday 9 April, with the juniors back in action at Paris-Roubaix a day later.
Gaining experience of international racing is a key component of the Rider Route for junior and senior academy road riders.
Rider Route is British Cycling’s performance pathway, helping the most promising riders become the stars of world and Olympic cycling.