Juan José Haedo was ranked as one of the best sprinters in the North American peloton before he decided to go for the 'big time' and join a ProTour team. The Argentinean was accustomed to winning and placing in the top of most bunch sprints in the domestic circuit, so heading to Europe to take on the ProTour was an humbling and educational experience for the 26-year-old.
"It's a whole other way of doing things over here simply because the level is so much higher here. A lot of the time in the States I could win a race or at least be at the top of the list even though I was only giving about 70 or 80 percent, but over here that's just not possible – you get dropped straight away if don't make an effort," explained Haedo on the team's website, www.team-csc.com.
Haedo, one of the first pure sprinters to be hired on to the CSC team was prepared for a shock to the system, but even still has had his share of struggles.
"When I was with Colavita Olive Oil and Toyota-United Pro in the States the major goals for the season would be Tour of Georgia, Tour of California and other races, where we had to compete against the Europeans. So of course I knew that you gotta be on form to keep up here. But now my whole season is at this level so I still had a lot of things to learn."
"Some things are harder than I thought they would be, but then some have been slightly easier than expected," comments Haedo, who took six victories this past season, of which only two were in Europe – something the Argentinean sprinter would like to change next year.
"I won a race in Denmark, one in Germany and four in the States. Next year I'd like to win some ProTour races. I've learnt a lot about how to train and rest between the various races, because it's very important that I plan these thing better than I used to. For example I should have had more rest ahead of Giro d'Italia, because after one week I was completely worn out," said Haedo.
"My training is fine though. I've been going over my winter program with the sports directors and that's all good. Now I'm going home to Argentina for the next three or four months except for our training camp, which is in the summer so I'll get loads of opportunities to train on the roads. But it's really my resting periods which I need to plan more carefully – and then I'll get those ProTour wins."
The victory in Rund um Köln in April was Haedo's first in Europe so naturally it meant a lot to him, but winning the Philadelphia International Championship was still his favourite. He won it ahead of his team-mate Matthew Goss, whom he has worked with a lot during the year.
"It completely took me by surprise that all of a sudden he was there behind me in the sprint. We were both ecstatically happy afterwards. We've been room-mates for most of the year and have had a great time together. We've both learned so much in the course of this season so I'm looking forward to celebrating with him," concluded Haedo.