Article courtesy of DSM
Photo courtesy of Freddy Guerin / DirectVelo
17th September 2021
A fierce battle through the Ardennes saw Leo Hayter emerge triumphant for Development Team DSM, after a brilliant ride where he attacked his breakaway companions and arrived solo at the finish.
Development Team DSM were back in action today for the U23 version of Liège – Bastogne – Liège. Just like the elite edition, the peloton would be faced with an incredibly demanding parcours with constantly rolling roads and almost 3000 metres of elevation spread over the 170 kilometre route.
It was a frenetic start to the day with attack-after-attack at the head of the peloton, with the team riding well together to make sure they were in any dangerous moves. Eventually the elastic snapped with the peloton five minutes ahead of the fastest schedule, and a strong seven rider group went clear, with Leo Hayter riding well to make the move for the team.
Cooperating together, the breakaway increased their advantage to just over two minutes where it held steady as the kilometres ticked by. The peloton slowly ate into the gap and at one point had it down to one minute before the teams that were working slowed down, while the break increased the pace, and the gap expanded again.
Heading into 30 kilometres to go Hayter kicked on alongside Pluimers and Drizners over one of the many climbs, while back in the peloton the rest of the team expertly marshalled any counter attacks. The trio out front continued to work well together as they charged towards the famous Côte de La Redoute where Hayter applied the pressure once more and went solo with 15 kilometres to go.
Holding the gap over the chasers at 40 seconds and with the reduced peloton a further 20 seconds back, Hayter went all-in, pushing the pedals and not looking back right until the line, where he sat up to celebrate a spectacular win for Development Team DSM.
“I don’t think words can really describe it, I’m so so happy,” beamed Hayter after the race. ‘I was really nervous at the start but after 25 minutes or so I found my pace at the front of the peloton. From there it was constant jumping and the team were always in the right moves and I managed to get away. Once we got in the move, we saw the right teams were there and I really believed it could go all the way to the finish. On the Vecquée the breakaway broke up a bit and it was me and the Axeon and Jumbo riders. We rode quite well as a three coming into the Redoute. I wasn’t too confident that I could win the sprint so on the steep part about one kilometre onto the climb I went for it and didn’t look back. When I finally looked back I saw the gap and just went full to the line. I can’t believe it, I’m just super happy to take the win for the team.”
Team DSM coach Huub Duijn added: “Those days are the best and it’s really cool to be a part of this win. We wanted to be active and aggressive all day, and that’s what the guys did. Leo made the break with most of the bigger teams represent, but of course it was still a long way to go. When the longer climbs started, the pace went up in the peloton but the rest of guys neutralised any attacks. In the front they always worked together well, and so the strong group kept their advantage of two minutes for a long time going over the climbs at the halfway point of the race. Then coming in to the finale, Leo first got away with two others on the last longer climb. With a minute in front of the peloton, they headed in to the local lap with the famous La Redoute clim at round 18 kilometre to go. There, Leo put in a big attack from his companions, and never looked back and he could hold the peloton at a minute for a while, showing how strong he was. He could celebrate early coming into the final time up La Redoute, and took home a big win for the team, after a great ride from all of the guys today.”