Marco Haller can Haul…
All photos © Tim De Waele
A key member of Alexander Kristoff’s leadout train, sprinter Marco Haller of Austria knows a thing or two about going fast on a bike. At just 25 years of age, Haller has been a member of Team Katusha-Alpecin since 2012 and already has four pro victories to his name. He’s also competed in nine classics and two Tours de France. We caught up with Haller at the KATUSHA-ALPECIN training camp in Calpe, Spain.
When and how did you start riding?
We have to go really far back. Probably it was not to annoy my parents too much. I was playing football, ice hockey, I was an Alpine skier, I was (into) cross-country skiing and mountain biking. And as soon as I was larger enough I was on a road bike. Actually I did my first bike race when I was 5 years old in my region. We had around 12 mountain bike races all over my region per year and we could start at 5-6 years. This is where racing bike started (mountain bike first). It was always the road bike which tempted me way more, but just because there were no road bike for this size of kids I started with mountain bikes. But as soon as I had the chance to switch to road bikes I did.
Best and worst moment of the 2016 season?
To start with a good thing, the best I would say, was finishing my second Tour de France. It’s the biggest cycling race in the world and beginning part of this is every year my goal. The worst… I can be really happy that it didn’t have that many bad moments this year in particular. But if I look back at San Remo when I crashed just before the Cipressa, because this is a race I really love too and I hope I can play a bigger roll in the future. When you crash there, probably because of your own fault, it’s a big disappointment.
2017 season: What are your goals for the year?
I think I hope I will mostly race with our captain, Alexander Kristoff. I should be there on almost all of the races to support him. This is something of my abilities and I would always be very loyal. I really enjoy winning with him or when he wins as much as I do it myself.
You’ve been riding for the team for a long time, what do you like about Team KATUSHA-ALPECIN?
I’m already been five years with this team, coming into my sixth season. What I really like with this team is its constant development. Every year they make a step forward. Also I always feel coming to a family, wherever I go to training camps or races. Even with a lot of new signings of riders and also with the staff, it a super atmosphere. I’m really enjoying the first few weeks together with the 2017 squad.
What is your favorite race on the calendar?
For me it’s somehow the World Championships. Because it’s a race which is not the same every year. Of course I’m a big lover of Monuments. But with the World Championships, maybe one correct decision makes you wear the rainbow jersey for all year. This is something incredible and makes this race very special. It’s the most beautiful jersey you can have. I’m also looking forward to race next to a world champion, Tony Martin (for the individual time trial). It’s already nice to look at his special TT bike.
What are your thoughts on the SRAM RED eTap groupset?
I really like that SRAM developed a product that was from the beginning pretty much perfect. There is hardly anything you can complain about. Actually I don’t know anything wrong. For a rider like me who does all the Classics, you never have any ghost shifts, which could sometimes happen with other groups. I really like that you have one button on one side and the other on the other side so you cannot mix it up. That makes it a very accurate group.
Which Zipp wheels do you prefer?
Even though I cannot use it that much, the 808s. It’s my absolute favorite model. When you race the last stage of the Tour de France or a flat stage in Qatar on your bike… first of all the bike looks double as cool and then the feeling of accelerating is really cool. So I would always go for 808 if I could.
If you were an amateur, would you ride tubular or clincher wheels?
I’ve seen and heard of pros training on tubulars, but for me on a “private” ride I would always go for clinchers just to have the ability to solve a problem easily. I train on clincher and I would always recommend clinchers. There are some differences, but I would say everybody should find his best compromise. You feel comfortable on both.
How important is your power meter for training and racing?
A rider of my generation cannot really imagine being without one. I really don’t want to ride without a power meter. It’s frustrating when for example your battery is empty and I need to do my training, then half of my motivation is gone. It’s also somehow cool to see the numbers and you’re kind of constantly racing against yourself. It’s what I love about it.
What do you like about your Quarq power meter?
I’m not the most technical or the best mechanic. So I’m really happy that my Quarq power meter is really simple to calibrate and handle. I can set up everything myself.
Besides your riding gear, is there something you always take with you when you travel for races/camps?
Recently I’ve always my Bose speakers with me to have some proper music. If it’s just in the room or during massage to relax or whatever.
What is your favorite food? Favorite drink?
I’m a big sushi lover. This is what I always go for if I have the choice. In terms of drinks I’m not super demanding. I can enjoy a glass of wine too. (red or white) It depends, with sushi it goes with white of course.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
It’s home. I live in the south of Austria with very beautiful lake, high mountains, forests, small roads, twisting up and twisting down, really cool. Unfortunately, at the moment the weather is pretty bad but during summer with 30 degrees it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I really enjoy coming home.
Can you tell us something that no one knows about you such as a favorite hobby (art, cars, music), rituals,…?
I’m a big football fan beside of cycling. I strongly support Arsenal. I even frequently travel to away games, some home games. Something I do besides of cycling.