Haga: I have nothing holding me back now

American takes 12th place in opening Giro d'Italia time trial and is currently ninth overall

Chad Haga’s 12th place finish on the opening-day time trial at the Giro d’Italia might seem like a remarkable comeback tale, but the American and his team are keen not to view it as such.

Haga was the rider worst affected when a car ploughed into a group of Giant-Alpecin riders on a training ride in Spain in late January, needing 98 stitches from his face to his sternum. Just two months later he was racing again at Criterium International, and a few weeks on, he is putting in impressive displays at the highest level, currently sitting ninth overall at the Giro.

Haga and his team, however, don’t want his performances to be viewed as ‘good’ in the light of what happened at the start of this year, but as ‘good’ per se.

“The thing for Chad was not to be a good cyclist in relation to the accident that happened. If you finish 12th here it’s a good result, totally disconnected from the accident,” Giant-Alpecin manager explained to Cyclingnews in Arnhem at the Giro.

“It’s not a case of ‘ah this happened to you, it was good’. This was just, really good. Almost top 10 in a Grand Tour prologue. That means we leave it behind.”

Haga himself took great heart from his time trial ride and, like his manager, is looking ahead rather than behind.

“I’m very happy with it. I was a prologue specialist in the US, and I’ve done a lot of hard work trying to perform at this level," he told Cyclingnews.

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“I was shooting for a top 10 but I’d have been happy with top 20 or 25. I knew I was capable of a good ride it was just a matter of doing it. The Giro has been on my calendar the whole time so it’s always been a big focus."

After making his comeback, Haga, like so many sportsmen who come back from serious injury, spoke of nerves and apprehension about getting back into the flow of racing.

That now, he claims, is a hurdle that has been jumped, and he’s looking forward to going the whole way in this Giro, and putting in more performances in Italy this month that can speak for themselves.

“I’ve got nothing holding me back now. That has all gone really well; I’ve got a handful of races under my belt now and every day I’m feeling a little better.

“I will just be stage hunting and the focusing on the time trials, and taking whatever opportunities I can and come out of it with a result. I’m really looking forward to stage nine [rolling time trial]. Tom [Dumoulin] is the favourite but I’m hoping to do well there too.”

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