The Dutchman Cees Haast took his first steps in the cycling world in his home village Rijsbergen. Some years later, in '63, his professional cycling career took off. He had an incredible desire to attack and therefore quickly became a public favourite. This desire was also converted into results, because a year later, during the Tour of Switzerland, he experienced high mountains for the first time. His climbing skills were clearly demonstrated, because he finished twelfth in the final ranking.
In 1964, he strengthened the Belgian Televizier team (1964-1965), followed by Televizier-Batavus (1966-1967), BIC (1968) and Willem II-Gazelle (1969). During this period, he participated in the Tour de France (five times), the Giro d'Italia (once) and La Vuelta (four times).
Tour de France 1965
A year earlier, in '64, Cees stood at the starting line for the very first time during the Tour de France. In this edition he had to be satisfied with a 39th place, but the following year he had completely blossomed into a climbing talent. In his home village, Rijsbergen, there was a lot of enthusiasm and everybody followed his participation in the Tour de France very closely with transistor radios.
His fans were treated to wonderful racing moments, for example, during the stage from Gap to Briançon, Cees passed top cyclists such as Felice Gimondi and Raymond Poulidor. He became the first Dutchman ever to reach the top of an Alpine climb as first, namely the Col de Vars, during the Tour. Even Tour Director Jacques Goddet personally came to congratulate Cees on his arrival in Briançon. After this exceptionally strong performance, only six days away from the end of the Tour, his supporters from Rijsbergen decide to travel to Paris by bus.
During the 17th stage from Briançon to Aix-les-Bains, Cees raced over the mountains, straight to the podium, or so it seemed. But fate struck, during the descent of the Lautaret he fell badly. It looked like an innocent fall, but blood gushed from his hip. An arterial bleed, the Tour doctor concluded. Cees was not about to give up, but it was no longer possible to continue cycling. Cees had to be taken to hospital. Tears spilled from his eyes as he fell into the arms of his team leader, Kees Pellenaars.
The next day the newspapers were filled with a tearful Cees. The people of Rijsbergen and the rest of the Netherlands joined in the crying. Gone were the hopes for the first Tour victory of a Dutch rider ...
Two days later, the emotions settled somewhat and a crowd of fans welcomed Cees at his home in Rijsbergen. The smile on his face was back as he looked ahead to the '66 edition.
He achieved his best results in '67 with a (meager) 14th place. A year later, in 1968, he again seemed to be ready to take the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. But unfortunately he didn't get the chance, because he was not selected to participate in the Tour. He himself declared afterwards that he really could have won this edition.
As mentioned above, Cees was a public favorite because of his sheer attacking instinct. But his great personality also played a part in this: he was brave, sweet, enthusiastic and was very soft, but very hard on himself. An example for many others, but maybe it was also his soft character that prevented him from winning a big tour.
Throughout his career, Cees Haast rode for various cycling teams including Televizier, BIC and Willem II-Gazelle. Would you like to cycle just like him in these iconic jerseys? You can shop them here!
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