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2022 Tour de l’Avenir: Great Britain squad reveal

Hayter, Watson and Gloag head up strong GB line-up

The Great Britain squad for the 2022 Tour de l’Avenir and it looks like one of the strongest GB line-ups in years.

The route

The ‘tour of the future’ is the most important race on the men’s under-23 road racing calendar, an important stepping stone for future starts. You only need to look at the five most recent winners to see that: Tobias Halland Johannessen (2021), Tobias Foss (2019), Tadej Pogačar (2018), Egan Bernal (2017) and David Gaudu (2016).

This year’s edition takes place over ten stages from 18 to 28 August. Beginning in the west of France at La Roche-Sur-Yon, the race opens with a 4 km prologue. Three flat stages follow as the race heads east. From here, the terrain begins to get more challenges, with two rolling stages (stages 4 and 6) sandwiching a 28 km team time trial on a sporting course. After a rest day on Thursday 25 August, the race then hits the mountains for the final three stages.

The ‘nearly-selecteds’

Squad selection this year cannot have been easy for Matt Brammeier, the Elite Road and Senior Men’s Academy Coach. The current crop of British under-23 riders is one of the strongest we’ve ever seen. Highlighting those riders that missed out on selection serves to underline this.

WorldTour stagiaires Oliver Knight (UAE Team Emirates) and Harrison Wood (Cofidis), recent Tour Alsace winner Finlay Pickering (Groupama-FDJ Continental), Giro Valle d’Aosta stage winners Oscar Onley (Development Team DSM) and Mason Hollyman (Israel Cycling Academy), Max Poole (Development Team DSM) – 6th overall at the Giro Valle d’Aosta – and Cycling Team Friuli ASD’s Ollie Stockwell (8th overall at the Giro Valle d’Aosta) are among the GC riders who did not make the cut.

Meanwhile, Olympia’s Tour stage winner Jim Brown (WiV SunGod), GB Academy’s Jack Rootkin-Gray (5th overall at the recent Kreiz Breizh Elites), and Sean Flynn (Tudor Pro Cycling), a winner at the Istrian Spring Trophy, are three options for the flatter stages that were not selected.

Then there are the riders that technically could have ridden because they remain under-23, but are already on the WorldTour. These include Ben Tulett (Ineos Grenadiers), Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), and Ethan Vernon (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl).

The squad

So many contenders, but only six slots available. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the squad that has been picked is a well-rounded one, capable of both stage wins and the overall win.

Let’s take a closer look.

2022 National Road Championships – Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland – Sam Watson and Mark Cavendish Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Sam Watson (Groupama-FDJ Continental) – 20 years old. Watson has been one of the standout under-23 riders in the last two seasons and it is no surprise he has been rewarded with a WorldTour contract with Groupama-FDJ from 2023. A UCI race winner this year at the U23 Gent-Wevelgem, the Peace Race (stage 3), and the Tour Alsace (stage 5), Watson is also the under-23 British road race champion, narrowly missing out on the senior title after being outsprinted by Mark Cavendish. He’ll be a contender for stage wins in the opening half of the race.

2021 AJ Bell Tour of Britain Stage 8 – Stonehaven to Aberdeen, Scotland – Trinity Racing’s Thomas Gloag on the front of the break. Photo: SWpix.com

Tom Gloag (TRINITY Racing) – 20 years old. Gloag – rumoured to be joining Jumbo-Visma next season – was on his way to a top position in last year’s Tour de l’Avenir, crashing on the penultimate stage while in podium contention and then pulling out of the race with concussion a day later. He nonetheless bagged 4th at the Baby Giro and 3rd at the Ronde de L’Isard in what was an impressive 2021. His 2022 has been disrupted by injury and illness, but some attacking displays at the Giro Valle d’Aosta and the Tour Alsace suggest the form is coming back. He is on the provisional startlist for the Arctic Race of Norway ahead of Tour de l’Avenir, which might give him a chance to hone his form further. If he can be back to his best, he could be a contender for the GC.

Bob Donaldson at the 2021 Tour of Britain: Photo: SWPix.com

Bob Donaldson (GB Senior Academy) – 20 years old. Donaldson is a second-year under-23 who has been developing well at the GB Senior Academy over the past two seasons. A strong all-rounder, Donaldson should provide strong support to the team’s leaders, while also capable of achieving a result himself if given the opportunity. 4th overall at the Tour d’Eure et Loir, 7th at the U23 Gent-Wevelgem and the PWZ Zuidenveld Tour, and 9th at the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic suggest the youngster is on the cusp of his first senior-level UCI road race win.

2022 National Circuit Series – Colne Grand Prix – Josh Giddings (Team Inspired). Photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Josh Giddings (GB Senior Academy) – 19 years old. Giddings is one of two first-year under-23s on the team. His inclusion will be important for his own development as a rider and he will no doubt play a valuable team role. He won the sprints jersey at the Junoir Tour of Wales last year and has performed well on the road since stepping up a level. 5th in the under-23 national time trial championships and 3rd at the Colne Grand Prix are among the highlights from a strong first season at the GB Senior Academy. A strong team pursuiter, he will be an important cog for the team in the team time trial.

UCI 2021 Road World Championships – Leuven, Flanders, Belgium – Jack Brough of Great Britain in action during the Men’s Junior Road Race. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Jack Brough (GB Senior Academy) – 19 years old. Another first-year under-23, Brough is a rider who will gain invaluable experience at the Tour de l’Avenir. A rider of great potential, Brough was one of the standout domestic juniors last season, finishing second overall at the Junior Tour of Wales, and winning the Cadence Junior Road Race. Like Giddings, he will no doubt play an important role in the team time trial.

2022 National Road Championships – The Crichton, Dumfries, Scotland – Leo Hayter of Hagens Berman Axeon during a warm-up ahead of the Under 23 Men’s Time Trial. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Leo Hayter (Hagens Berman Axeon) – 20 years old. Like Watson and Gloag, Hayter is another rider destined for the WorldTour. Already a stagiaire with Ineos Grenadiers, he will formally turn pro with the team at the start of 2023 where he will join his brother Ethan. Hayter had a tough time last year, taking time out from cycling as he dealt with mental health issues. He returned stronger than ever, winning the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a stage of the Tour de Bretagne before becoming the under-23 national time trial champion. He successfully defended his TT crown this year not long after a commanding win at the Baby Giro; his greatest sporting success yet. A mean time triallist and an excellent climber, he will start the race as one of the overall favourites.

Featured photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. UCI 2021 Road World Championships – Leuven, Flanders, Belgium – Sam Watson, Bob Donaldson and Lewis Askey of Great Britain during Road Race Training.