Nathan Haas believes that despite having had a disappointing season by his usual high standards, Australian teammate Michael Matthews can ‘do something amazing’ at the UCI Road World Championships in Belgium on Sunday September 26.
Matthews has been close to several big victories this year with Team BikeExchange but has missed out on a win, however his track record at the Worlds is impressive with second, third and fourth place finishes during his career.
The course in Belgium suits his style of riding, and Haas is backing his team leader.
“I grew up with Bling and we’ve had the same coach since we were 15. We’d train in garages together in winter and the one thing that i know about him is that his nickname is Bling for a reason and something amazing always happens,” Haas told Cyclingnews while on his way to ride the Primus Classic in Belgium.
The men’s road race also takes place on Matthews’ 31st birthday and Haas believe that there’s an element of destiny involved given his run of near misses in 2021.
“He can rise to the occasion. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but maybe this whole season of not being quite there is just building towards this narrative of getting his biggest result. That’s how cycling goes sometimes. Just look at Michael Valgren. He hadn’t won a race in over three years and then he wins two in a week.”
Haas will ride in support of Matthews in Flanders and is making only his second appearance for Australia in the elite men’s road race at Worlds. His only other outing at the event came in Yorkshire two years ago. He has had a relatively quiet season in Cofidis colours but has been a solid teammate and domestique throughout the campaign. Those qualities attracted the attention of the road coach management and Haas is eager to pay back their support and trust.
“I was pretty touched to be selected for the team, to be honest,” he said. “ There have been years when I thought that I deserved it for the year that I've and not been selected and there have been years when I've been selected and it could have gone either way. This year I’m honoured that they’re bringing me for my experience and not necessarily my season. I was touched that Cycling Australia looked at my career like that.”
Haas’s exact role within the team has yet to be decided but it’s likely that he will support both Matthews and sprinter Caleb Ewan in the early phases of the men’s race before holding on and possibly marking moves before the key favourites come to the fore.
“I don’t think that the role of road captain applies to modern cycling anymore,” he said when asked about the role. “Leaders are so smart now and young riders have us all by the balls but if we had one person for that role in an unofficial capacity it would be Luke Durbridge," he explained.
"He’s been in every team that I can remember and he’s just clutch at bringing the team together and for me, that’s what the captain is about rather than calling the shots on the road.”
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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