Haga to WorldTour

Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies' Chad Haga has had a breakout year on the US domestic calendar this season, and he even added some results in European races. Now the WorldTour has taken notice. Haga told Cyclingnews on Wednesday that he has signed with a division-one squad for 2013, but the 24-year-old Texan wouldn't reveal which squad he'll be riding for.

"I have signed for a ProTour team for next year," he said. "I'll do a couple of big European campaigns and also get to come back and race Tour of California, Colorado. So I'll get to do some racing in the states as well. But, yeah, I'm moving up to the big leagues."

Haga, who is in his second full season with US Continental team, started 2013 with a win in the opening time trial at the Redlands Cycling Classic in April. He followed that with a trip to Portugal and the Volta ao Alentejo, where he finished second overall. Haga took his first National Race Calendar overall win at the Joe Martin Stage Race before riding to a 10th place finish at the Tour of California. He won the prologue time trial at the Tour of Elk Grove, a UCI 2.1 stage race in the suburbs of Chicago, just last week before heading west for this week's Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

The results caught the attention of the squad he'll be riding for next year, and a contract offer soon followed.

"It's still surreal," Haga said. "It hasn't really set in that everything is working out properly and I'm getting the opportunity I've been trying for. I really don't know how to explain it. It's like, Ok there's one goal realized. Now what?"

Haga will finish out the Utah race before heading to the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado with Optum at the end of the month and then onto the Tour of Alberta. He said he hopes to keep piling up the results in the US before he heads to Europe next year.

"I still have racing on the calendar, and I want to take every opportunity to repay my team for everything they've done for me," said Haga, who added that he was still a bit conflicted about whether the news adds more pressure to perform or less.

"Yeah, I have to prove that I'm worthy," he said. "But on the other hand, I'm set."

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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.