A third place in last Sunday’s Drummond Trophy alerted us to 18 year old Robert Hassan’s form, so we thought we better have a word. His dad introduced him to cycling five years ago, initially mountain biking, and has mentored him ever since then, with Robert getting more into the road scene as he turned Junior a couple of years ago…
You have dropped MTB altogether now?
“Yes, I was better at the road so decided last year would be my final season racing as a mountain biker so I can fully focus my training and time doing road racing to maximise my chance of making it to the top.”
College or working?
“I’m in my first year studying Civil Engineering at Strathclyde.
“It’s pretty heavy going but interesting at the same time. Good thing is most days you get let out after lunch which means you have time to get out on the bike.”
Any relation to the legendary Dave Hassan?
“Yep, he’s my Uncle and was a powerhouse in the 80’s and part of the team who won the British TTT champs 1988. Hope I get strong as him in the future!”
What were your juvenile and junior results like?
“Last year after a bad start due to illness and a LOT of crashing, my season improved and I began making an impact later on in the British Junior series with a 12th Tom Simpson RR and 10th in the Bath RR.
“I got a bronze medal in last British Junior XC Champs which was good, but my biggy was in August where I got 4th in the last stageof the Junior Tour of Wales which finished on the Tumble Climb.
“I was always pretty young for my age which pulled me down a bit at youth/junior level… but this year’s a different story!”
Is Doon Hame the biggest race you’ve ridden, so far?
“Definitely the biggest I’ve done so far.
“But also it was a completely different sort of race than I’ve done before because it was a lot more of a team race, where the best British teams are battling it out to gain control for the sprint, very like what you see in the ProTour on the Telly.
“Great experience though and looking forward to the next one I do.”
How did it feel lining up with the Blains and Bauers of this world?
“It felt amazing before the start of the race seeing all the top guys and teams, but once the race began I forget who I was racing against and I just get stuck in.”
Tell us a little about stage one.
“Compared to the other stages it was the easiest but it was good to get used to the pace and the size of bunch. The route was pretty straight forward, no testing climbs or strong cross wind to split the bunch up. I got in a few moves early on but nothing was staying away for long.
“I found it hard to stay up near the front in the last few miles with the big teams vying to get their men near the front. One minute you’re near the front, the next your back in the middle again. That happened to me at a few K to go and ended up finishing mid pack. It’s amazing the first time you do a race at this level; you get a right buzz out of it.”
“For me it was a long stage, ended up 98 mile which is the longest race I’ve ever done. Much hillier as well than that of the day before so I just tried to conserve myself till later on when the race really hots up.
“The last two climbs of the day were on farm roads, very narrow, so you had to watch out not get caught behind the splits with the relentless pace the Rapha and Raleigh guys were setting. There were a lot of punctures in these sections; all the riders were getting them including my team mate Dougie Young who was up there as well.
“I found keeping up on the descents harder than the climbs because you’re having concentrate on where you’re going, missing all the potholes and then sprinting out of corners to keep up. I lasted the whole distance until the final hundred metres where I just lost the wheel on the uphill sprint.”
“It was miserable day weather-wise, but I focussed like the day before in conserving myself till nearer the end when I knew the pace would rocket up.
“After surviving the crosswinds and floods in the exposed moorlands, all that was left were myself and around thirty guys. I was fatiguing a lot in the last 15 miles where the cross winds as well as the sheer speed the Rapha guys were putting to catch Endura’s Bauer, were taking their toll.
“I managed to sprint to 27th and was that place on GC. After three days of fast racing and my first Prem [Premier Calendar Race], I was well chuffed of my position. Bring on the next one!”
Best moment of the race?
“Finishing the last stage with the best domestic riders in the country and only losing 42 secs on Chris Newton, 30 secs of that on bonus seconds. Hopefully later on I can have the strength and endurance to compete in the finishes.”
Worst moment of the race?
“Only just avoiding two nasty crashes on stage 1 and another one on stage 3.”
What’s your main goal for 2010?
“Winning the Scottish Road Champs and a podium in the U23 British Champs.”
Did you get a lay-in on Tuesday?
“Don’t think I got up on Tuesday!”
Thanks to Robert for his time, and best of luck for the rest of the season. One to watch we reckon!