When Chad Haga started racing bikes in college, he calculated, based on his promising early results, that he might be able to turn pro upon graduation.
That calculation proved correct, and he’s been a WorldTour pro since 2014. And now the engineering school graduate is running the numbers once again. He’s hoping it adds up to a Tour de France debut in 2018.
For Haga, calculated progress dates back to high school, when he started racing. He went on to join the Texas A&M team as a freshman in 2006.
“When I was in my freshman year in college, I was a Cat. 4 racer, and I was progressing quickly. In my mathematical mind, I figured by the time I graduate, I can go pro,” he said. “Now it’s about time for the Tour. I definitely want to go there someday. If not this year, maybe the next.”
“If Tom decides to go to the Tour, I’d love to support him,” Haga told VeloNews in a telephone interview. “I’m climbing that ladder pretty quickly in terms of age and time on the team. We have a bunch of young, talented guys, and a few veterans and captain, but only a handful of guys like me.”
At 29, Haga has quietly become one of the most consistent and resilient helpers on Sunweb. He made the jump to the WorldTour in 2014 following two seasons with Optum-Kelly Benefits. After overcoming a potentially career-altering crash with a car during training in early 2016, Haga is stronger than he’s ever been.
Since then, he’s started and finished six grand tours, including back-to-back Giro-Vuelta doubles in 2016 and 2017. This season was a breakthrough, both for Sunweb and Haga. The team won its first grand tour with Dumoulin at the Giro, and Haga emerged as one of his most reliable helpers.
“I’ve done the Vuelta-Giro tour double now two times in a row,” Haga said. “I am a lot stronger than I was two years ago. I have more experience. And it’s funny to say it, but I am becoming one of the more experienced guys on the team for riding grand tours.”
That could be enough for Haga to punch his ticket to his debut Tour de France.
Sunweb has yet to outline its racing calendar for 2018. Team brass is waiting to see what the Giro d’Italia delivers with its route presentation on November 29 before committing to Dumoulin’s racing schedule.
Dumoulin is expected to race the Tour de France with the objective of challenging for the podium. He has not, however, discounted racing the Giro. With growing speculation that Froome might race the Giro next year, the highly anticipated Froome-Dumoulin matchup could come in Italy.
“I’d love to race the Tour de France next year with Tom,” Haga said of Sunweb teammate Tom Dumoulin. “It all depends on what the team wants me to do. I like riding for him. He’s a great team leader.”