By Kirsten Robbins in California
Saxo Bank sprinter Juan José 'JJ' Haedo and his younger brother Sebastian (Colavita-Sutter Home) will cross swords for the second time this year at the Tour of California, set to begin in Sacramento on February 14.
"I feel good about the Tour of California this year," said JJ Haedo. He is undefeated on the streets of Santa Rosa, the stage one finish. "The Tour of California is a very big race for our team. If you look at the line-up, I don't think you can get much better than that."
He joined the ProTour ranks in 2006 after signing a two-year contract with CSC, now Saxo Bank. He was picked out after his double stage victories at the Tour of California that season – a step that his younger brother hopes to make, too. "My dream of being a pro is real now," said Sebastian Haedo.
He joined the American ranks in 2008 with hopes of turning heads at the Tour of California but his New Jersey based team was not invited last year. "It is still my dream to be a pro in Europe and race with my brother – that is my real dream."
He added that his preparations for the Tour of California started in November. Being the younger brother of a well-known sprinter adds to his motivation for success in this year's event. "My main goal is to win a stage," said Haedo.
He will need to contain world-class sprinters like his brother to do so. "But, I am JJ's first fan. He has the potential to be the best in the world. I feel motivation, not pressure for being his brother.
"I have grown up with a well known last name in cycling because of our father. He was a very good cyclist in Argentina. Several times he was the road and points race champion. One year our father's team won 76 of 77 races."
Juan Carlos, a 1984 Olympian, handed the sport down to his sons at early ages. Both boys left home to pursue a cycling career in their early twenties. JJ went to the US-based team Colavita and Sebastian headed to the Spain-based team Diputacion de Leon.
They hope to join forces on the same team in the future. "Our father raced for so many years and in our family there is a tradition with cycling," said Sebastian Haedo. " But the most important thing is that my family supports us to do what ever we want. If it is cycling, a lot better, but if not they just want to see us happy with what we do."