Marco Haller Interview: Austrian talent winning WorldTour races at 21 years of age
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marco Haller Interview: Austrian talent winning WorldTour races at 21 years of age

by Ed Hood at 11:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
Katusha sprinter speaks about career, goals, Armstrong and more

Marco HallerApart from ‘time tester’ Tony Martin’s attack to take the GC, the biggest surprise from the Tour of Beijing was the stage four win by 21 year-old Austrian Marco Haller (Katusha).

The young Austrian left ‘Ale Jet’ Petacchi and ‘coming man’ Elia Viviani in his wake to take his second win of the year, but his first success in a World Tour event.

Haller won a prodigious number of Austrian track titles as a juvenile and junior.

But he also displayed great road potential in 2009 with four stage wins in the Canadian Coupe des Nations Abitibi – the race known as the ‘junior Tour de France.’

And the same year he took bronze in the world junior road race championship in Moscow.

For 2010 he was in the senior ranks with the Austrian, Tyrol Team.

Last season he rode for Slovenian team Adria Mobil, winning the Austrian pursuit championship and producing the ride which landed him a contract with Katusha for 2012 – fifth in the World U23 road race championships in Copenhagen.

He spoke to VeloNation upon his return from China about sprinting, Lance, Arsenal and - Oasis:

VeloNation: You were originally a track rider - why change to the road?

Marco Haller: Not really, I never participated in any international track competitions.

But if the season was too short in the past years I often went to the national track championships where I managed to win quite a lot medals - but my times where never competitive at an international level.

VN: Do you think you'll ever go back to the track?

MH: No, my passion is the road race, track was just for fun.

VN: You were on a Slovenian team in 2011 - how did that come about?

MH: I live just a few kilometres from the border with Slovenia – the Adria Mobil squad is one of the best Continental teams in the world.

I saw no future for myself at the very low level in Austria.

I had to look for a challenge to improve; this is why former pro Paco Wrolich, who helps me quite a lot, managed it to make a deal with this top team.

It was maybe the most important choice in my career so far.

VN: You were fifth in the Copenhagen U23 Worlds - was that the performance which got you the ride with Katusha?

MH: Yes, obviously.

The world championship is simply the most important event for young riders to turn pro.

I think I was also lucky that all the medalists in the U23 road race had already a contract and so Katusha signed the German rider Selig (fourth) and me in fifth spot.

VN: What is it like being on a Russian team, which language is used?

MH: I do not know how it is in other teams, but for me everything is still thrilling. It is very professional and I think the team had a little revolution with the change of the management in the last winter.

The team language is English, but a major part of the staff is Italian, so you hear a lot of Italian too.

VN: You had some good finishes in the Three days of West Flanders - do you like the Belgian races?

MH: Definitely, the Classics are the races I am dreaming about. I want to show good performances in Roubaix and the Ronde.

VN: Which type of parcours do you like best?

MH: I prefer hard races - pan flat stages are sometimes “too easy” for me. I like it more like in the last stage at the Tour of Poitou Charentes where all the real sprinters where already dropped.

VN: Do you do specific sprint training - what drills do you do?

MH: Yes, of course. I work very close with Sebastian Weber - he helped me to improve a lot this year. I also think that the training behind the car is quite important.

VN: Petacchi and Viviani - you beat big names in China, tell us about that day, please.

MH: This was also a stage which was, at least at the end, not really easy.

We had some climbs in the finale but I just felt phenomenal - so I told my guys that I needed their support.

At the end the final was a bit of a casino, but I managed to follow the right wheel and obviously I had a lot of power left.

VN: What did you think about the Tour of Beijing?

MH: It’s a very nice race and very well organized.

The most impressive thing was the landscape when you left the city. To race in the mountains was very thrilling; but the racing was harder than I had expected.

It was simply a real World Tour race but I think to be mentally ready to suffer was the most important thing at that time of the season.

VN: You will be with Katusha again in 2013 - what would you like to achieve, do you know your programme?

MH: Yes, I am happy to stay another year with this successful squad.

I actually want to work close with my teammate Alex Kristoff - I think we could be a fast combination with me as his lead-out man.

We are both young and our best years are still to come. However I want to win by myself as well. One victory should be the minimum now – but honestly, to make it again at the World Tour level will not be easy.

VN: How will you spend your winter?

MH: Nothing special, I’ll take some time out for a couple of days, and then I will be back in training quite soon.

I do not want to waste my good shape I brought back from China. Maybe I can start in The Tour Down Under? I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

VN: What is your opinion on the Lance Armstrong situation?

MH: Honestly, I do not really care. I put all my focus on the present days. His era might have been dark; but I am 100 percent sure that it is better now.

That so many youngsters are winning riders shows that we have a new generation - a generation which deserves a chance. We work hard for the success and the public should appreciate that.

VN: The Denis Galimzyanov positive test in the spring must have been a big disappointment for you and the team?

MH: Well, black sheep are everywhere, not just in the sport. But yeah, it was a real shock for me - I thought he was a good guy, but actually he was a cheater. Anyway, I just want to focus on myself.

VN: And I believe you like English soccer - which is your favourite team?

MH: It was my brother who turned me into an Arsenal of London fan, but we still haven’t managed to visit a match in the stadium.

VN: I also believe you are an Oasis fan - who do you prefer Liam or Noel, and why?

MH: Its true, but both of them simply belong to Oasis. I think the solo albums are not really worth listening to. My iPod is still full of Oasis classics but I do not have a single Beady Eye song.


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