CyclingPub Interview: Chad Haga confident after impressive recovery
Jan 13 2017 03:04 pm CET

CyclingPub Interview: Chad Haga confident after impressive recovery
CyclingPub Interview: Chad Haga confident after impressive recovery
SUBSCRIBE TO RSS FEEDS

CHAD HAGA
TEAM SUNWEB

For American cyclist Chad Haga, the 2016 season was one to remember for many reasons. A year after the training accident, he's back in Spain and looking confident ahead of the new season.

The Sunweb rider, then Giant-Alpecin, was one of six riders to be involved in the accident at the time. Haga suffered the most serious injuries but recovered at an impressive pace, allowing him to ride both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España in 2016. Being able to do so, gave him added confidence ahead of the new year, he tells us during the interview.

We meet with Chad at the end of a long training session in Calpe, Spain.

Long day of training today?

Yeah, not the biggest day but plenty tired. We did a team time trial training, then came back and changed to road bikes and went out to do the intervals.

An obvious question to start with. You're back here in Calpe [the location of the training accident involving six riders including Chad Haga in January of 2016]. Do you feel that things are kind of back to normal now?

Yes at this point it feels like life is back to normal. It's just a training camp and I go through the rhythm every day.
Text continues below the gallery (hover on the photo to browse)

Chad Haga (Team Sunweb), Calpe 2017
Photos by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com

So no more lack of concentration because of what happened?

No, we got that out of the way the first couple of days at the last camp. We just got that done and it's been much better since.

"I know I can work hard enough to overcome difficult circumstances."

How do you look back on your recovery, and do you think that there may even be something positive to take from it?

There are definitely plenty of positive things to take out of it. I know I can work hard enough to overcome difficult circumstances. But I'm glad that the recovery is behind me. It just felt like I was always trying to get back to where I had been and now I'm beyond that. So it's good to be past it.

You received a lot of support from people as well, right?

Yes, I needed a lot of help. Riding my bike was about the only thing I could do for a short time and then I was useless the rest of the day.

The preparation for the season last year was far from ideal but you still managed to ride and finish two grand tours. What did that tell you about yourself?

All signs point towards a good year this year. If I could have a bad start last year and still managed all that, as long as things stick to the plan this year it should go very well.

Can you tell us a bit more about the plans for the coming season? Do you already know which races you will ride?

I will be starting in Andalusia in February. Then I'll be following Tom [Dumoulin] around for a while. My big focus will be the Giro, supporting him there. That will be my peak period this year, my main focus.

You have also indicated that you think your best chances are in time trials.

For individual results it's likely time trials. A certain type of stage can also work. But I really enjoy time trials. Those have been some of my best results. If I continue improving I think that is where we will see the first results.

Are you looking at the Giro time trials?

Yeah we'll see. Going there in a support role there's a chance that I won't get to race the time trials full gas, to save some energy. We'll see when we get there.

"The team showed that they can master sprints and now they can shift to the next big challenge."

This will be your fourth year at this team. A lot has changed since then. It used to be more of a sprinters and classics team but it's more all-round now. Do you think the team has taken the right direction?

Yes. Sprints were the most straight forward way to be the best in the world at something and they showed that they can. GC is a much more involved and difficult thing to become dominant at. It takes time and the team showed that they can master sprints and now they can shift to the next big challenge.

There have been some big departures such as John Degenkolb and big signings like Wilco Kelderman. What are your views on these changes?

I'm sad to see John go. I always really enjoyed racing with him. Now he'll be fierce competition this year. But I welcome the new guys like Michael [Matthews] and Wilco. They're fantastic bike racers in their own right and now we work for them, trying to get them the results.

Are there any teammates you particularly like to hang with?

I seem to be drawn towards the older guys. I start to feel that way myself now. The guys with kids and wives have more similar lives and circumstances. Those who are pursuing education, they are always fun.

About education, you studied in Texas yourself. Why do you think cycling as a sport seems to attract so many people with higher levels of education?

In my own case the opportunity was there and I knew that it will be a long time before I can really retire and not work anymore. But I'm only going to be this physically fit now. I think other people who get an education and are presented the same opportunity, they realized the same thing. It's not that cycling attracts people with education. Educated people can also see that it's a fleeting chance.

You recently mentioned disc brakes on Instagram. You put a joke there mentioning your wife?

I got her a bike with disc brakes for Christmas. She wanted something with a bit more stopping power. She had a pretty low level road bike and she was really scared on descents because she couldn't stop quickly. I did some shopping and found a good option. She's much happier now.

What your own view on these brakes?

It's a technological advance and as an engineer and a biker I look forward to a chance to race on it. It's not a perfect system but every new technology has to be faced somehow and adapted.

What would you say are the downsides?

The danger is the biggest thing. Mass pile-ups are a very common thing and rotors aren't that big but they still pose a hazard. I think there are some pretty straight forward fixes to protect against that. I've been through enough wet descents that I would really love to tackle one with brakes that work immediately.

"I don't talk as much as others so I get to just observe. I let a joke brew and then release it."

Having already mentioned your joke on Instagram; in general humor is important for you on social media, it seems. Do you apply this as well in your daily life as a cyclist, with your teammates?

In my daily life I have a pretty dry humor. I don't talk as much as others so I get to just observe. I let a joke brew and then release it.

You live here in Spain, in Girona. Have you already picked up a bit of the language and the culture?

I'm slowly settling in. While I was waiting for this interview to start I was working on Duolingo trying to brush up on my Spanish a bit. I want to make a more concerted effort with it this year. But it's difficult with all the traveling around. I spend a month in Italy at the Giro and there's not a whole lot of opportunity to practice Spanish there.

How much time of the year do you actually spend at home?

Usually, the longest I spend at any one location is two weeks. Then it's time to go somewhere else. That holds through the winter also as I have to make the rounds and visit family and friends. I never seem to stay put that long.

You've been to Texas this winter, right?

Yes, it was great to see my mom again before I left for six more months.

How does she take that?

It's hard on her but she's more and more used to it now.

How is the general support over there in Texas, for you and your career?

It's good. My wife is enthusiastic. She's coming here this week and we start our Spanish life together. I get a lot of support from family and they're excited to see me do well.
Photo of Chad Haga by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com





COMMENTS


Join our team!


Have you always wanted to write about cycling? Click HERE to contact us!
Get the latest cycling news in your mailbox


Enter your email address:

Current races (22 November)



Upcoming races


Recently finished races