Argentine sprinter plays down chances to win at the Santos Tour Down Under
Despite the 13 hours time difference from his country, Juan José Haedo enjoys his third visit to Australia in just over one year as he is back in Adelaide for the season-starting Santos Tour Down Under after having represented his country at the Worlds in Geelong in the autumn of 2010. "It's interesting to finish a season in Australia and start the next one in Australia, too," the sprinter from Saxo Bank-Sungard said.
Moreover, the soon-to-be 30 year-old (January 26) has an interesting season ahead. After scoring his first international victories on the US scene, he has stepped up as far as winning stages in Pro Tour races like the Tour of Catalunya and the Dauphiné last year. Now, the Classics and the Tour de France are the obvious next steps.
"It depends a lot on what will happen with Alberto Contador," Haedo told Cyclingnews in Adelaide. "But I have more chances than before to ride the Tour de France and Milan-San Remo. In the previous year, I didn't get a start at the Classics because there was Fabian (Cancellara), Matti Breschel, Stuey (O'Grady)... but now my first goal for this year will be Milan-San Remo. I'm not saying today that I'm going to win it but I want to have my best shot there."
At Saxo Bank, the Tour de France was formed around Andy Schleck but with the departure of the Luxemburger as well as several Classics specialists, the Danish team might have some space for the Argentine sprinter. Still, the Santos Tour Down Under won't be a performance test for him, and he played down his chances of victory against some of the world's best sprinters next week.
"My condition is not so good for now," he warned. "We have decided not to push ourselves here because we don't have a lot of races in February as we're not doing the Tours of Qatar and Oman. It would be crazy to do too good here and then have to rest again. So I didn't rush for form. I've put a solid base of training on but I don't yet have the speed to compete again the best sprinters who are here. Maybe in the last few days with the condition growing, I could have a shot, but at first, I'll try and help Baden Cooke in the sprints. We haven't spoken about the race yet but he told me he was feeling good at the national championship on Sunday.
"A stage win in a Grand Tour and a podium finish at a big Classic would make it a good season for me," said Haedo, who might well be the first Argentine to ride the Tour de France in modern times although he considers Spain's Juan Antonio Flecha as a compatriot - the Team Sky rider was born and raised in the same country as him.