Cycling Families: Argentina

Brothers in arms JJ (left) and Lucas Haedo (image courtesy of Roberto Bettini)

Have you noticed how many sets of brothers there are in the peloton? In some cases, they’re part of cycling dynasties who’ve been inspired by the exploits of their relatives.

We’re starting our ‘Cycling Families’ series during the Tour de San Luis where two sets of Argentinean brothers are taking part. First up we have Juan Jose (‘JJ’) Haedo, whose birthday it is today, and his younger brother Lucas Sebastian. Both sprinters, they’re riding again this year for Bjarne Riis’ Saxo Bank, having signed one-year deals which will keep them at the team until the end of 2012. Riis says of the pair:

We have every reason to believe that the Haedo brothers will add victories to our palmares next year. At the same time both J.J. and Lucas are great guys to work with and they fit well on the team.

The Haedos’ father, Juan Carlos Haedo, was also a cyclist: a sprinter, who represented his country both on the track and road at the Olympics and Pan American Games during the 1970s and 1980s. He racked up a total of eight victories including the 1982 national road race championship. So we know where the boys obtained their love of cycling at speed – it’s in their genes. Haedo senior is now a selector for the Argentinean national squad.

32-year old JJ, who’s been a professional road racer since 2002, and four-time national champion, joined Team CSC in 2007 with an impressive palmares gained on the piste and American continental circuit. He’s added to that with some quality wins on the ProTour. Last year, he became the first Argentine to win a Grand Tour stage when he claimed victory in stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana, after which he said:

For me, to become the first Argentine to win a stage in one of the grand tours, this is a very special victory. There was some confusion in the final kilometre, but I came through in good position. It’s something I’ve been hunting for a long time, so to finally achieve it is something special.

Lucas Sebastian, who’s 11 years younger, joined the same team as his brother in 2010, again after success on the American continental circuit. However he struggled in 2011 after being hit by a motorbike during Paris-Nice. He generally rides in support of his elder brother despite JJ being a free-agent sprinter (i.e. one without a train). It’s clear from interviews with JJ that he looks out for his younger brother and during the racing season they live near one another in Spain.

A former winner of stages in the Tour de San Luis in 2008 and 2009 , JJ is looking to cement his reputation this year after victories in the Vuelta and Tirenno-Adriatico last year, and the Volta a Catalunya and Criterium du Dauphine in 2010. His sights are set on this year’s Giro and, of course, the London Olympics.

But first up it’s his home race and naturally, with the team and his younger brother at his disposal, he would like to win Saxo Bank’s first race of the season in front of family and friends. He almost succeeded on Monday’s first stage but Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Francesco Chicchi proved more adept at throwing the bike over the line. There was barely a fag paper between them.

Our next set of brothers is the Richeze boys. There are actually four brothers but only the middle two, who both previously rode for CSF-Navigare, are riding for the Argentinean national squad at the Tour de San Luis. Maximiliano Ariel (Italian D’Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo team) is a former U23 Argentinean and Pan American champion, while younger brother Mauro Abel won last year’s Vuelta al Uruguay. The latter finished in third place on Monday’s hail-hit sprint stage. Mauro rides for a Hungarian continental squad, Ora Hotels, along with his oldest brother Roberto Antonio. While youngest brother Adrian Ezequiel is still to become an elite rider, he’s building a palmares to rival his elders.

Scanning the various websites there seems to be a number of brothers or Argentinean cycling families on two wheels, such as the Moyanos and the Borroyas. Maybe next year they’ll be racing in the Tour de San Luis and we’ll take a closer look at them and their achievements.

We’ll be keeping an eye on how the boys fare in their home tour, this week’s Tour de San Luis.

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