In 2011, Nathan Haas burst onto the scene by winning the Japan Cup. Today he repeated that performance when he added the 2014 edition to his palmares and he admits that the race has a special place in his heart.
Three years ago Nathan Haas earned himself a professional contract when he added the Japan Cup to the overall win in the Herald Sun Tour that he had taken a few days earlier. Today he continued his love story with the Japanese race when he won the 2014 edition of the event.
Haas emerged as the strongest when 9 riders arrived at the finish to decide the hard and selective race in Utsonomiya. The Australian benefited from strong support from Daniel Martin and managed to hold off Edvald Boasson Hagen and Grega Bole in a photo finish.
"This race has always been a special race for me. After winning it in 2011, I signed with a WorldTour team, so it's always been special," he said to Cyclingnews.
"It was a hard race, there was a lot of attacking and once the race was all back together, I think Garmin-Sharp and Sky had similar ambitions because they had sprinter-climber riders in Boasson Hagen and Swift and we had myself and Steele Von Hoff.
"Dan Martin wasn't feeling good and said it was all for me today. When it kicked off with two laps to go, he actually took over and rode all the way to the last climb. I followed the attacks and a group got away. It was pretty hard to calculate but I won the sprint. It was awesome.
"Tinkoff-Saxo was riding for their sprinter Michael Valgren. Then with 400 metres to go, the Lampre-Merida team jumped over the top of them. Knowing that the last corner is one to sprint out of first, I jumped on them and then they faded just before the corner, it was perfect. I got the jump coming out of the corner, and I knew it was important to go before Boasson Hagen did. I kicked and he came up to my shoulder but I really wanted this win and so found another gear."
The win was Haas' second in 2014 after he won a stage of the Herald Sun Tour in February. Since then he has mostly been riding as a domestique but he ended the race in the way he started: riding as a captain of Garmin-Sharp and paying back his teammates with a great performance.
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