In 2013 Nathan Haas of Team Dimension Data (then with Garmin-Sharp) rode the Tour de Pologne for the first time. It was not just any race for Nathan, it was a chance to visit the country of his grandparents and learn more about his heritage.
There was something special about that week in Poland and my eyes were opened to the beauty of Poland. I was a little sad to leave after the race.
His first experience of Poland obviously had an impact, as he decided the next time he would race there he’d extend his stay and discover more. This is when we met with Nathan in Kraków. Despite his strong start at the Tour de Pologne 2017, he wasn’t able to complete the race due to illness.
It was disappointing because I would really like to come here and win a stage or get a good GC result. It’s the second time at the race and there is so much to see. Not only the amazing landscape, but the fans at the side of the road. I have never seen the guys in the peloton turning their heads as much as here.
Image courtesy of Laura Fletcher/The Peloton Brief
As we sit and drink coffee, his phone starts buzzing. A press release announcing his move to Team Katusha–Alpecin in 2018 has just gone out and the news is spreading fast.
It’s an exciting time, Katusha are a big team and I will be given the chance to lead in some pretty important races. It’s a big step up and I’m already getting stoked about the Spring Ardennes Classics.
Of course, for an Australian rider with Eastern European roots, a move to a Swiss Russian team is a big change, but also the opportunity to stay connected with his heritage.
When my grandparents left Poland they were put on a boat with no idea where they would end up. They arrived in Australia and had their passports taken away and given new Australian ones.
You can’t just remove people’s identity like that and I recently had some time to reconnect with my family’s history. I am looking forward to spending some more time in Poland, I have fallen in love with Kraków, I hope to be back soon.
It seems another appearance at the Tour de Pologne is likely for Nathan, unless he features for Katusha at the Tour de France next year.
I still have unfinished business there; I rode it in 2015 and got to the 17th stage but had to pull out. I had been racing since stage 2 with an illness and the whole time I was just fighting to stay in. There is only so much your body can handle.
We look forward to welcoming Nathan back to Poland in the future and showing him some more of the amazing roads that this part of Europe has to offer.