It was a full year between wins, but sprinter Juan Jose Haedo was finally able to raise his arms in victory again in the Redlands Bicycle Classic stage 3 criterium. The 32-year-old Argentinean was also first in the sprint behind the successful breakaways on stages 2 and stage 4, showing that he is back to full power.
Haedo made the decision to return to the UCI Continental Jamis-Hagens Berman team following a six-year stint in the WorldTour after the Saxo Bank team of Bjarne Riis did not renew his contract.
"[Saxo Bank] had a different approach, they wanted to get more guys to support Alberto Contador. Some years they go one way, other years they go another way," Haedo said.
Over the years, Haedo had several big wins, starting with two stages of the Tour of California in 2007, stages of the Tour de San Luis, Vuelta a Murcia, Tour of Luxembourg and Tour of Denmark in 2008. His first ProTour success came in 2010 at the Volta a Catalunya and Critérium du Dauphiné, then in Tirreno-Adriatico in 2011 before he claimed his first Grand Tour stage at the 2011 Vuelta a España.
"I got my good results," Haedo said, but with the UCI's system of determining teams for the WorldTour by points accumulated by the team's riders, a sprinter is only as good as his last results. Saxo Bank faced the difficult task of supporting Alberto Contador while at the same time trying to remain in the WorldTour without any of the Spaniard's points: because of his doping suspension, Contador's points did not count toward the rankings.
"In my case I don't think the points system helped me," Haedo said.
When asked to explain the choice to come back to the team of his compatriot and former teammate Sebastian Alexandre, Haedo said the team was keen to have him back, and he was motivated over the winter to repay his team with strong results.
"I got a really good preparation this winter, and it was good to get a result for the team after all the guys made such a sacrifice. It made me dig even deeper to try to win because you saw the guys really stepped it up this year. I had to do it for them."
Haedo's next races will be the Joe Martin stage race in Arkansas and the Tour of the Gila, which will help to prepare him for the Tour of California in May. Already with five stage wins in California to his name, he will be looking to add another and also repay his team for their faith.
"It would be nice to get a win [in Tour of California] for this team, because they went after me and tried to get me back, and it would be nice to get a win for the domestic teams."