After his overall victory in the Tour Down Under, Orica GreenEdge’s Simon Gerrans is the early season leader in UCI points with 670.
A solid start to the season but nothing compared to the commanding lead the American rider Chad Haga has taken in the UCI Character Humor competition.
In the aftermath of a horrid car collision that could have killed six riders, it was Haga would came away with the worst injures. He was airlifted to a Spanish hospital with deep wounds to his chest, neck, chin and face — including a broken orbital bone that will require surgery.
Nevertheless, despite a near death experience caused by a 73 year old British woman driving on the wrong side of the road, Haga has been turning out a steady stream of humor tweets and videos. He has arguably generated more press attention than any other rider so far this season.
According to the UCI’s informal numbers on the Humor competition, Haga has an astonishing 1934 points. That puts him far ahead of teammate John Degenkolb (also seriously injured in the same collision) and Adriano Malori, who crashed in the Tour of San Luis.
“It’s is his sense of humor, that is why he is winning by so much,” said the UCI’s Andre Lemaitre, the man who oversees the Humor points completion. “Everybody crashes but he has the funniest material. It makes people proud to be associated with pro cycling.”
Degenkolb suffered from a nearly severed finger that was surgically reattached this week. This injury may have been responsible for his lack of social media presence — with only nine fingers, social media is not a simple matter. “YEs, you can see that Degenkolb is trying but Haga is so far ahead. I think the German is discouraged,” said Lemaitre. “Also, he will miss Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. He is not in a mood foe funny tweets.
There has been little word on Malori who was in a come after his dramatic high speed crash. This may also explain his relative silence. “We will see — Malori is a fighter and has a good sense of humor. It would not surprise me if suddenly he came out with plenty of funny quotes that demonstrate his funny style,” said Lemaitre.
Nevertheless, Haga is confident that we can not only maintain his huge lead but perhaps even extend it. “I’m from Texas so I am a funny guy. Also I went to college so I’m pretty versatile and a quick study,” said Haga. “Did you see that video I just posted on Instagram? It’s hilarious.”
The pro cycling race season has only just begun but there is no question that Haga has impressed plenty of people with his grit, thoughtful perspective and strong sense of humor. There will certainly be plenty of other crashes and opportunities for riders to demonstrate their humor in the face of adversity. However, Haga has dominated the Humor points competition is a way that has rarely been seen in the modern era.
“Hey, I’m out for months. I’m missing big races. Since I’m sitting in this hospital bed, I might as well win the most UCI points for Humor,” said Haga.