Nathan Haas Interview: Tour Down Under is a great dream for me
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nathan Haas Interview: Tour Down Under is a great dream for me

by Shane Stokes at 5:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour Down Under
 
Garmin-Barracuda neo-pro ready for year one

Nathan HaasFrom roadside to peloton: it's quite a change. Having attended the event twelve months ago as a spectator, Nathan Haas has realised an early career goal and will now actually be part of the first WorldTour race of the 2012 season. The new Garmin-Barracuda signing will tomorrow line out in the Down Under Classic, then on Tuesday will begin the Santos Tour Down Under itself.

For Haas, the twelve month transformation from race viewer to pro rider is one which shows how far he has progressed.

“For any Australia cyclist, riding the Tour Down Under is a great dream,” he told VeloNation this week. “I was here last year watching the race, and I told myself that I really have to get here [as a competitor]! Not only was it a dream but it was also my goal to be here.

“Now that I am in the race, I laugh a little at how hungry I was to become a professional. Every moment of every day was focussed on doing that. I’ve realised that goal now, and I feel as if I can achieve much more.”

Haas had a solid 2011 season with the Genesys Wealth Advisers team, winning the Gippsland, Geelong and Tasmania rounds of the National Road Series and taking the overall standings. Those performances were good, but what attracted and then secured the interest of Garmin chief Jonathan Vaughters was his scintillating end of year run of form. It was his overall victory in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour plus his win in the Japan Cup which snagged him his contract.

Impressed by those results, Vaughters suggested in October that Haas had something special. “He shows a very rare quality in a rider: He finds a way to win, no matter the terrain or the competition.”

As expected, the 22 year old was psyched with how things finished up in 2011 and also by his new pro deal. However, rather than getting carried away, he deliberately held himself back then. He admits that this could in some ways limit how he performs in the days ahead, but that it should be better in the long run.

“My season ended quite late in World Tour terms,” he explained. “I only finished racing in November 2011 having been competing from January that year, so it was important for me to have a long break to really rest the body.

“I also had a few commitments throughout November and December including my team camp, which made my break stretch out a little longer then planned. As a result, my return to training was later then expected. I have been training really well and am happy with where I am, but I am not in my best condition at all. That said, things are very much going in the right direction now.”

Supporting role accepted:

The fact that he’s not in the same shape as during the Jayco Herald Sun Tour event plus the general higher level of the racing in the Santos Tour Down Under means that the days ahead will be tougher than those he experienced last autumn. That was a jumble of podium appearances, champagne spraying and winner’s bouquets. This race will most likely be different, but he’s prepared for that. He’s accepted he’ll be building steadily, and has set more modest targets than he had then.

“For me, not being in 100% condition, my goals are to be here wholeheartedly for my team. But even if I was in top form, I think this would still be the case as my Garmin-Barracuda team has incredible riders,” he said. “They have a real chance of winning this race, so I am more then happy to be here to help them achieve their goals.”

Haas will join up with Heinrich Haussler, Ryder Hesjedal, Jack Bauer, Robbie Hunter, Andreas Klier and Martin Maaskant in the team lineup. It’s not year clear who will be the protected riders there, but the time bonuses will quickly determine who is the best bet for the overall.

Last year the team won the race with Cameron Meyer. Although the defending champion is now with the GreenEdge setup, his former team-mates will be motivated to perform strongly once again. They’ll consequently begin stage one with a determination to shape the race.

Looking further ahead, Haas will head to Malaysia after the Santos Tour Down Under for his next big race of the season, the Santos Tour de Langkawi. That’s one which could suit him well, and the ten days of competition will also help him to further hone his form prior to returning to Europe.

His racing schedule has been laid out until June. He doesn’t elaborate on the details, but does mention that he’s been pencilled in to do a top race. “After Langkawi I’ll be doing a few spring Classics like the Amstel Gold Race, so I’m pretty excited about my programme,” he said.

It may take a bit longer to settle in, but he’s prepared to be patient and let his legs adapt to the jump in level. “In terms of targets, I would like to be able to walk away from my first season having taken in as much experience as I can,” he stated. “For certain I would like to be able to say that I took advantage of every situation I was given to perform on my own [terms]. Hopefully I will also win a stage or two.”
 

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