Chad Haga blog: The last-minute call-up

As the season is being planned in the winter, everything is so clean and simple. The calendar has a logical flow with building, peak, and rest periods. You notice the 'R's on some other races, but at that point of the year don't give much attention to your reserve races. But then the season starts for real and you realise that cycling is messy—sometimes, really messy.

Some years are worse than others, but injuries and illness are a constant presence, and when this unfortunate duo arrive at a time of year where teams are running a double - or even triple – race programmes, that carefully-planned calendar quickly has more lines and arrows than one of John Madden's play diagrams.

It seems like just a few days ago that I was nervously pinning on my first number of the season at the Tour de Provence. Early-season French racing never disappoints, and it was a solid kick in the pants. I left with tired legs, pleased with my February form and impressed by the level some guys already had.


After a short couple of days at home, I found myself on an unanticipated flight to the United Arab Emirates to replace an injured teammate at the new WorldTour race. Even if my participation wasn't planned, I was in good shape and motivated to see what I could accomplish. I finished the week feeling encouraged by my performance -- that everything was going to plan, even if it wasn't quite sticking to the plan.

One thing we confirmed in the UAE Tour was that the difference between riding on the front and hiding in the bunch during four hours of stiff headwind makes for very different experiences, and I wasn't all that fatigued after the week-long race. Keen to keep building on my form, I jumped right back into training after returning from the race. It wasn't long before my phone rang with the news that I would be missing training camp, instead heading to Italy for my fourth participation in Tirreno-Adriatico, marking my third last-minute call-up to the race.

That same day, I saw the carnage that was stage 1 of Paris-Nice, which put two more teammates on the injured list. After such a string of injuries and a few last-minute call-ups already, it’s at this point that riders start checking on those previously-ignored 'R's on the schedule to anticipate calls that may be coming sooner than later.

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