Chad Haga Blog: Cycling’s sinister game

What if…?

It’s a sinister game that athletes play with themselves any time a victory was within reach but ultimately slipped away, and it’s a game that I’ve found myself playing a couple of times this year.

As a domestique, the opportunities for personal success are few and far between. Instead, my focus is on the success of my teammates, which is itself very satisfying, but it’s important to – at least occasionally – go all-in in pursuit of throwing your hands in the air. These days, those opportunities usually come in the form of time trials.


While my spring was aimed at peak form during the Giro d’Italia to help Tom Dumoulin as he attempted to defend his title, I was also making weekly visits to my time trial training grounds, a flattish road with minimal traffic and a water fountain at the end. I would finish each ride with knotted shoulders, aching from hours of cheating the wind. My bike was streaked with horizontal lines of salt-and-sunscreen sweat, the evidence of commitment to the process at 50kph.

The Giro went very well for Tom, and my performance in the time trial pegged me as a favorite for the national championships in the next month, the only date on my calendar circled as the one I wanted to win.

When that day drew to an end, I found myself looking at the silver medal in my lap and asking myself, “What if?”

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