What's Cool In Road Cycling

Hamish Haynes Gets PEZ’d!

It takes a while, a decent Michelin map, and some luck to find Hamish Haynes’ house. The tiny village where he lives is near the the town of Tienen in the Belgian province of Brabant, not far from Holland. There’s no cafй or shop close by, and only rabbits in search of tastier pickings across the road see us arrive. The neighborhood dogs hear us though and their barking echoes across the still, dark fields.

The home that Hamish shares with partner Emma Silverside – who herself races in Belgium – is clean, compact and cosy, but far from glamorous. This is the other side of the pro racing coin, distant from team launches in five star hotels and Tom Boonen comparing notes about supercars with ‘Pippo’ Pozatto.’

Hamish was ‘stung,’ along with many others, when the Pedal Tech team – which was to have been the successor ro the DFL squad – collapsed before it even got on its feet

Despite winning the British elite road title in 2006 and finishing third to David Millar in the same race in 2007, the man from Manchester has been largely ignored by his home media. Here at PEZ we thought we should do something about that state of affairs:

PEZ: How many seasons is that in Belgium now, Hamish?
Hamish: This will be my seventh year; I spend most of my time here now. I have an English address for technical reasons, it all gets a bit complicated if you try to take out Belgian citizenship. I go home to see my dad for a few weeks each winter and then go warm weather training to Spain, I’m just back from nine weeks in Spain.

PEZ: Will you stay in Belgium when your career is over?
Hamish: I’m not sure, I have to stay in this house for at least two years to ensure I get my deposit back, but once I stop racing I’d like to travel, experience other cultures.

PEZ: We heard that you’ve had hassle getting a race licence?
Hamish: I was going to try and take out a Belgian pro licence, but like I said, they want you to take out Belgian citizenship and it all gets complicated. I’ll have a British licence in time for my first local races, this weekend.

PEZ: Who are you with for this season?
Hamish: I’m with the Yawadoo amateur squad, it’s not a big team but the programme is good, which is very important. If I’m riding the way I’m capable of, then I should have no problems being given protected status.

PEZ: With hindsight, was it a good move to go from Jartazi to DFL?
Hamish: It could have been, it was a good opportunity and at the end of last season everything seemed on course for Pedal Tech taking over, so I didn’t pursue other options. I actually signed a contract for 2008, last December with a decent salary; Michael Mates (Pedal Tech ‘supremo’) seemed very enthusiastic, but I guess a warning sign was that he cancelled a couple of scheduled meetings with me. I knew that the Pedal Tech shop wasn’t a big concern, but I assumed the guy was an enthusiast with other business interests, which was where the money was coming from.

PEZ: Do you have an agent?
Hamish: No, but I approached Belgian guys who place riders, the thing is though, that there are so many guys looking for a contract and it was late in the day when Pedal Tech collapsed – most of the teams had closed their rosters.

PEZ: Will the British champs be a target this year, again?
Hamish: Yes, unless I ride the Tour of Britain, the championship is the only race I’ll come back to the UK for. My goal is to get results that get me into a pro team before the end of the season; I’d really like to ride the Tour of Britain, but we’ll have to see what happens, I’m talking to pro teams at the moment.

PEZ: How big a deal is it in Belgium, you wearing the British champion’s jersey?
Hamish: If you are a “name” like Millar or Hammond then it’s more important and relevant, but when I wore it I used to get people asking me all the time what country I was champion of.

PEZ: Does it bug you that the British media don’t seem to pay you much attention?
Hamish: It does a little, but I try to be immune to it. However, I don’t race bikes to be in a popularity competition. I like to se myself as something of an inspiration to young riders who come over, maybe not to the extent of Cavendish or Wiggins, but certainly setting an example.

Pez: How many more seasons?
Hamish: That’s difficult to say, but at least two. I started at at 23 years-of-age, so I feeel I have a lot of unfinished business to complete. I want to prove to myself that I can win the races I think I can.

PEZ: Races like?
Hamish: I’m not capable of winning Het Volk or Kuurne, but there are UCI 1.1 races, like the Ronde van Drenth, which are good races and which I think I could win. But it’s difficult to get back up from an an amateur team like Yawadoo to a pro squad, especially with the ruling that only three foreigners are allowed in each team. As I said, I’m in talks with teams, but it’s quite political, obviously Belgian riders get preference. The most important thing is the programme, if you’re riding the right races, then that’s the main thing. If you’re kit or bike isn’t the best or you have to look after your own machine because there’s no mechanic, or fill your own bottles, you can live with all that if the team is getting you into the right races. You have to be self reliant. But one of the things you miss about being in a bigger team is a training camp, the higher speed of training in a group definitely gives you an edge.
I’ll be doing motor paced training this week to get some speed in my legs.

PEZ: The British World Class Performance Plan – does it help you?
Hamish: I’m not a young rider and I suppose I’m not specialist enough for the plan. They know what they want and a lot of their effort goes into the track. On the track if you produce the watts, you’ll get the medals, on the road it’s not as simple as that. If I get the results I’m capable ofn then I shouldn’t need help from anyone. It was a bit disappointing though, not to get a ride at the Worlds when I won the British title, they said they would get back to me, but they never did.

PEZ: How’s the form?
Hamish: I’ve had to ease-back a little this last week, I strained a leg muscle in Spain and it’s taken quite a bit of physio to sort it out; I did four hours today and it was fine.
It was expensive to sort-out though, a couple of hundred euros and I have to pay that out of my own pocket.

Ah! those damned euros again! that’s what it’s all down to, that and some glory – if you’re lucky.
We’ll be keeping in touch with Hamish as he pursues both commodities this season, from his quiet little corner of Belgium – we wish him well.

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