Nathan Haas: “Something we try to do is really to stamp our name on a race.”
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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Nathan Haas: “Something we try to do is really to stamp our name on a race.”

by Ben Atkins at 6:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de Langkawi
 
Australian’s battling sixth place in the Tour de Langkawi augurs well for the season to come

Nathan HaasNathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) finished the 2013 Tour de Langkawi in sixth position - a considerable improvement on his 46th from the previous year - just 2’43” behind race winner Julian Arredondo (Nippo-De Rosa). The 23-year-old Australian was fighting to the last to improve that position, however, since he was just seconds behind best Asian rider Wang Meiyin in fifth, and spent the final few stages fighting for the time bonuses that might lift him over the Chinese rider.

Unfortunately for Haas, he needed to take at least seven seconds from Wang and, after taking one second at the second intermediate sprint, and three at the third, he finished the race three seconds behind the Hengxiang team competitor.

“I gave it go, but Wang stayed up there in the final,” Haas told VeloNation immediately after the finish of the tenth and final stage. “I needed as many seconds as I could today, but there weren’t enough on the road, so I actually needed a time split at the end. I thought, as it was pretty technical, that his inexperience might let him leave a gap, but he actually finished ahead of me in the end.

“He had a good race to claim fifth,” Haas conceded.

Haas, and fellow Garmin-Sharp climber Peter Stetina were two of the most active riders at the head of the peloton in the middle part of the stage, but the Australian revealed that he would have preferred things to have been different.

“To be honest, I don’t particularly like doing a race like that at the end of a stage race; it just makes it so nervous,” he explained. “All the GC guys are smashing bars with the sprinters, and it freaks them out, and it just spirals a little bit. But we rode a good race today.

“I’m actually quite proud of coming away with sixth at the end of this Tour de Langkawi to be honest,” he added. “It’s a sign - if I express my confidence in myself - it’s a sign of good things to come.”

As the peloton raced towards the second intermediate sprint, at the end of the second of six finishing circuits, Haas was battling with Italian Andrea Guardini (Astana) for the points and bonus seconds. To see one of the race’s top climbers going head to head with one of its fastest sprinters was an unusual sight, to say the least.

“It’s how it is,” Haas smiled. “Guardini just wanted to get the first one, for the two points to give him enough gap that even if he didn’t finish in the top ten, he’d keep the jersey. You’ve got to give them credit for what they’re going for, and we’ve got to pick up the scraps; and when we can take them, we have to take them.”

Riding an animated race but leaving empty handed

Although Haas narrowly missed out on taking fifth place from Wang, and teammate Peter Stetina finished one place off the podium in fourth place, the Australian was positive about how the race had gone for their American team.

“Look how young our team is, especially as we’ve finished with four guys,” he said [both Steele Von Hoff and Caleb Fairley were forced to abandon with digestive problems - ed]. “We’ve got a whole array of top tens all week, so I think that Garmin-Sharp is going to be happy with our performances.”

While the Garmin-Sharp riders just missed out on the prizes, with the European season just getting under way, Haas is optimistic about the team’s immediate future; even those members of the team that were not racing in Malaysia.

“It’s March the second now, so it’s the start of spring now,” he said. “One of the things that I really believe in is energy within the team, and I think that it’s really important for every guy, at every race, early on in the year to try to really build that energy. The guys in Europe will have seen how we’ve gone here and, sure we didn’t get the podium finish, but God we came close, and they saw how hard we tried.

“So I think that kicks them in the bum a little bit, to push up in the Classics,” he continued, “and I’m really excited to watch and support our team throughout the Classics season this year. I think we’ve got a really exciting squad, with Nick Nuyens joining, and guys like Jack Bauer really finding their feet, and these Classics hardmen like [Andreas Klier] and Johan Vansummeren.

“We’re really expecting big things as an underdog team this year,” Haas added.

So, while Garmin-Sharp leaves the Tour de Langkawi empty handed, with attacking tactics to the very end, it rode a far from anonymous race.

“Something we try to do is really to stamp our name on a race,” said Haas. “Whether we win or lose, we’re here to represent the people that put money into our beautiful sport, and I think we did a really good job of that.”

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