Argentinean sprinter Lucas Sebastian Haedo and his Colavita/Sutter Home team are not intimidated by the presence of top sprinters Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) at the Tour of Missouri.
“They are very powerful, they are at a different level and they are used to these kinds of races,” said Haedo, “but everybody has two legs, everybody has a chance and everybody can win so I’m going to try.”
I sat down with Haedo, his teammate Davide Frattini and DS Sebastian Alexandre before the start of the first stage to get the low down. In their previous encounters, Haedo finished top 10 at three stages at the Tour of California earlier this year and is ready to go at it again.
“I know that the fastest guys are here, Cavendish, Hushovd and my brother and it’s going to be a hard race but I hope to have the strength to be at the end with enough power to be sprinting against them.” said the 26-year old.
Haedo also has to compete against his older brother JJ who races with the Saxo Bank.
“The races are races.” A smiling Haedo replied when asked if he was faster than his brother. “I don’t believe that I am faster than my brother but depending on the race and how the race is, I may have more chances, wait day by way and see how the race develops and I’m going to try and go for the win as many times as I can.”
The team is keeping the same strategy it has employed to deliver Haedo to seven NRC wins this season and put him in second place on the NRC Individual Standings.
“We do everything we do as usual, me, Luis, Anibal, Tyler, Andy, all the riders, we make sure to keep him away from all the mess behind and then we see.” said Frattini. “If it’s more technical finish, it’s easier, it’s more single-filed but I think what we did in California to put him in the top 10 a few times works well so we usually find a way behind or next to those teams. Definitely they have more horsepower than us but we have some ideas.”
Positioning, positioning, positioning. Every member of the team has a role to play as they take on the strong leadout trains. If all goes well, the Colavita train starts with Frattini at the front with Luis Amaran, Tyler Wren and Andy Guptill and Kyle Walmsley as the last wheel for Haedo.
“10 K[ilometer] to 5 K[ilometer] to go, it’s a job for us to keep him out of trouble.” said Frattini.
With 4 to 2 kilometers to go, the battle is for Cavendish’s wheel and his powerful leadout train. “That is the worst position, everybody wants to be there.” said Frattini. “The sprinters really fight for the position of Cavendish’s wheel, before it was Cipollini’s wheel. When you pass that moment, it’s easier for the sprinter. They really fight for the strongest wheel.”
With a straightaway finish like Monday’s stage, the team was expecting the Columbia-HTC squad to be at the front in the final three kilometers to keep the field single-filed behind them; which is exactly what happened.
The goal is to always keep Haedo at the front. “We have to stay there some way, if we can stay next to them, make sure to put Seba on Cavendish, Hushovd or his brother’s wheel and from there, 1K to 2K to go, it’s single-filed, the strongest team is in the front.”
“I believe that the last 2K are going to be very fast, basically the important thing is to be up there in a good position and then I need to figure out the options that I have. Being up there gives me the chance to go early, to wait and to decide depending on how the sprint is going. But to do that, I need to be there.” agreed Haedo.
The team has earmarked the 109.2 mi. (175.7 mi.) stage 4 from St. James to Jefferson City with its uphill finish.
“If we get a sprint there, I think that’s the best chance that we have. He’s skinny compared to the other guys. I think that’s the best situation for him in a finish.” said Alexandre.
Haedo is motivated and ready to mix it up.
“I arrived in good form, not the best one possible because the season has been very long. Because of the NRC, I needed to race a lot, and I am not as fresh as I wanted for this race, but the most important thing is that I want to be here, I want to race with the hope to win a stage. I am motivated even if I am not one hundred percent.” concluded Haedo.
In the first stage, Haedo finished sixth in the bunch sprint finish in St Louis won by Cavendish. He’ll try it again on Tuesday.