Interview With Nathan Haas

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Nathan Haas has had an amazing month. After winning the Tour of Tasmania, Herald Sun Tour, Japan Cup and finishing it off by signing with Garmin-Cervelo, we spoke with Nathan about how he got into cycling, what his short but eventful journey has been like, and what’s next for him.

Pretty big couple of weeks?

Absolutely! It’s been overwhelming and surreal. The hard work has definitely paid off. It just shows that hard work brings good luck. I am thankful for everyone’s help this year.

How did your cycling adventure begin?

It’s not a super eventful story. I started riding mountain bikes at 17 doing some cross country racing in Canberra but mainly mucking about. Given a disappointing mountain biking season in 2009, I entered the Tour of Tasmania and did pretty well so Genesys Director Andrew Christie- Johnson offered me a spot! Pretty non eventful actually. It was a good offer and seemed like a logical step with perfect timing.

Genesys’ success over the past few years has been no fluke. What is the support structure like at the team?

Andrew is a passionate cycling enthusiast, and has an in depth perspective on tactics and approaches to cycling. He simply knows how to win bike races, and is an incredible coach.

The culture is one of “if you ask you’ll be answered self-help system”. The knowledge is there and how much feedback and help depends on how much each rider needs. This way the team’s resources can be allocated more effectively to provide more assistance to the riders who really need it.

Team Genesys after Nathan wins the 2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour

How’s the camaraderie in the team?

Andrew chooses riders not only for their ability but personality is just as important. Hence, we’re all good friends in the team which makes a huge difference. We started to work in sync earlier on in the season sharing the same tactical approach in races. This allowed us success throughout the year as we were one step above the rest of our competition.

[Given the Warny was the hot topic of the week; I broached the subject of preparation and nutrition strategies for the race.  Haasy’s plan echoed that of former Warny champions, “we don’t really look at it like that. Feeding is done through training, ensuring our metabolisms remain efficient and keeping our glycogen stores topped up. It’s more about repeating the same routine of as little fat intake as possible, consuming complex carbohydrate rich foods and cutting out refined food. For example, I never eat the same thing before a race; it’s just around the same food groups.]

I suppose it’s sensible not to shock the body before a race like the Warny by over-eating or resting too much out of panic?

Yes, one thing I learned is it’s actually NOT the small one percenters which matter. It’s more a holistic long term approach like getting your sleep, diet and training right for the entire year. So if you do struggle to get your perfect meal the night before the race, it shouldn’t matter as you have built up enough depth in fitness, metabolism efficiency and confidence to still perform at a high level. People have to detach themselves from “race winning meals” or “lucky routines” and rather have consistency in all areas of their lives so nothing can inhibit race day performance.

I used to be like that but through racing and travelling, it’s rare to get everything lined up and right the way you want it. If you’re someone who needs everything to be right to race well, then you might only perform well once a year. You need to be dynamic and work around how hard things can be on the road, like doing your washing in the shower if no washing facilities are available in the hotel or eating a fattier meal than usual given limited dining choices. The hard work is done way before that meal, so it shouldn’t affect one’s confidence.

Your recent signing with Garmin–Cervelo is yet another testament to the way Genesys produce world class riders (Richie Port, Will Clarke, Steel van Hoff). What happens now?

I’m heading to live in Girona next year, where team headquarters are. I should find out my race schedule next week too. The plan is to put my development in the hands of Garmin. I am not sure what bike rider I am yet, that’s what we have to figure out. The first year is a discovery year seeing what races I can win, which ones I am suited for and what races I like doing.

Any epic training rides this year that stick out in your mind?

One of the differentiators of Genesys to other teams is training camps. Andrew is a big believer in them. Before the Tour of Gippsland, Steel van Hoff and I spent a month at a training camp in Tasmania during winter, living near Mt. Wellington. We got caught out on one ride as there was so much snow we had to turn back, but found it challenging to descend the hills and were drifting down mountains with one foot out in the corners it was so slippery. Even Steel who is an amazing bike handler was all over the place in the snow. But we toughed it out and that’s what makes you stronger.

Rumour has it a special person came to watch you at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which you won?

Yes, my mother has been to some mountain bike races but never really been able to come to a road race as they’re in pretty obscure parts of the country. But I told her this one was a big one.

Your emotion on this video at the tour of Japan says it all!

I thought I got 3rd! Around the final corner I was on the left hand side of a right hand corner. I picked Cunego’s wheel for the bunch sprint as I thought there were two guys ahead in the break. So I came off Cunego’s wheel and I realised I won the bunch kick for 3rd, but then couldn’t work out why there were no other riders after the finish line in the fenced off area. I turned around and rode back to cheering team mates. I guess we caught the breakaway.

[Nathan has deferred his studies at the University of Sydney to pursue his cycling career. His approach of “you can only do one thing well at a time” is definitely working and on behalf of Cycling Tips’ readers I wish him all the best for his European campaign. It couldn’t happen to a more genuine down to earth guy.

Haas took 2nd in the Warny in his first attempt at the race (after two bike changes). His teammate Joel Pearson taking his second victory (2009, 2011). Anthony Giacoppo also won the Shipwreck Coast Classic on Sunday.  Orange Army Invasion!]


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