HONZA HRUŠKA: Do things with love and success will come sooner or later

HONZA HRUŠKA: Do things with love and success will come sooner or later

In 2000, twenty-five-year-old Honza Hruška from Dlouhá Loučky surprised the cycling world by winning the prologue of the Giro d'Italia. Today, he is passing on his experience to the talented riders of the Ghost team and even after all these years he is not letting his bike rest. 

Honza, when did you first feel the desire to become a professional cyclist and compete in such prestigious races as the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia? Was it your childhood dream?

Maybe I'm different, maybe I'll disappoint someone, but I never had a dream to ride big races. I just enjoyed riding my bike and exploring the world around me. I couldn't do it by car when I was a kid and walking was too slow. And since I don't like to run, the bike was the obvious choice. I started dreaming big dreams as time went on, when riding led me to my first team and then to my first professional team abroad.

If you were to do one of the stages again, which one would it be and why?

Those who have been riding big stages for several years know that all the races blend together. It's basically the same riders, the same route, the same organisers and even the hostesses are the same. So I'm remembering something that is a big stew of fragments. Beautiful fragments. If I had to repeat something, it would be the prologue at the Vatican. Why is that? To know what it was like, because it's just a haze of intense memories.

At that time you were training and racing for the Spanish team Vitalicio-Seguros, can you compare the Spanish and Czech approach to training? 

I think it's the same everywhere. You have to work hard. When I joined the Spanish team in 2000, the biggest difference I perceived was the provision of the team. Maybe it was because I came from a modest Czech team. It was a luxury shock, but for me it was too much. Bikes, cars, jerseys, daily massages, flying all over the place, even our clothes were washed and brought to our room so we could just tap our feet and not do any extra movement. Of course they wanted you to train against it as best you could, but it goes nicely when you are so well taken care of.

What advice would you give to young talents who dream of winning international competitions?

To ride their bike because they enjoy it and not because they want to ride a big race. If they ride for fun they will ride for life. But if they ride to achieve something, then when they achieve it they will be busy over and over again figuring out what to do next. Let them learn to love the bike, movement and freedom. If they have a desire to win, let that be just the spice to their enjoyment of riding, and when they achieve something, let them ride on with humility and gratitude, appreciating that their parents, coaches, teams and friends helped them to a career as an athlete, which is a very unusual craft. When someone does something with love and full commitment, the results don't pass them by.

We know you have your young children on the team. Are you already preparing them for the Tour de France?

No way. I have 2+2 kids and I didn't force any of them into cycling. Yes, they are close to it because my life is bikes, but that doesn't mean their life has to be full of bikes. If they are interested I'm happy to help as much as possible, but it's up to them which way they go. However, cycling is a great sport for personality formation. You are alone on the bike so only you have to ride hard if you want something and you will understand that making mistakes can hurt. Plus, I don't like parents who take it out on their own kids to make up for some of their unfulfilled dreams.

Sometimes it can be challenging for a child to have a parent involved in the training. So what kind of parents do you think they should be? 

Like I said. First of all, a parent shouldn't ask a child to do something that they are not willing to do themselves. I mean pushing kids into daily training and not being able to go there with them. A parent should be a buddy (at practice) and better yet a role model. I identify with the saying that children are the image of their parents. The parent should come up with variety, fun, sometimes even jokes at practice, and that's fine with me. Feel free to even show that you can't do something like your already more experienced child. You'd be amazed at how much fun the kids have when they roast dad in his own gravy or tell mom at home how they passed what dad didn't. And not to make moms feel sorry, in the evening he'll show daddy again that he's more stretched than mommy. My bicycle was forbidden at home until the farm work was done. Now I'm practicing it myself and it's working. If you don't tidy up, you don't ride.

And where are you going with your kids and team this season? 

I'm already slowly filling in my calendar and it's going to be the same. Prima cup, some iconic races and a few small ones. My kids (and not just mine) are most stressed about the bike race. Or rather the pre-race moment of tension. So often what happens is that rather than make them race, I just let them ride. My point is let them ride, have fun around and not win. I started at 13 myself so you can still get a lot done. The kids are at the races, but they enjoy the "post-race circus" and their teammates more than the race itself. And we'll definitely be at the Junior Cup which is kind of an obligation that we organize and it's our baby.

We are very happy that GHOST Team is riding on our tyres. Tell us, why did you choose us?

Well, it's been so many years that it's hard to remember the exact sequence of history. It's even been so long that even though there's a relatively new Rubena logo on the jersey, when I tidy up my old clothes now, it still has Rubena with a hippo on it. Overall, we tended to work with Czech partners and I was already familiar with Rubena and knew it was a rubber that was "bulletproof". Everyone has a different opinion on that, but the confidence of being carried by something that is a good weight, holds up well, and still gets me 99 % of the way to the finish line without a puncture is a compelling argument for me personally.

So what about our tyres and punctures?

Rubena and a defect don't go well together. You have to look at it from 2 angles. One is when the rider is to blame and that's 90% of the time. The other 10% is bad luck. In road cycling, there are more non-culpable defects, but even then it can be helped. There are often situations when we hit something and immediately think, well, we're done. But wait! The tyre held up, even though it wasn't supposed to. And that pleases. For non-culpable defects, it is a balance between bad luck and well-chosen rubber. If I'm riding a really demanding trail and I take the lightest and thinnest that the brand makes, then it's a bad choice. Well, sometimes someone up there just arranges it and gives you a stop sign even though you have done everything as it should be. At least you have the opportunity to practice tyre changing services.

Can you please describe your favorite tyres?

I don't like changing tyres too much. I used to deal with it more, but as I get older I try to have tyres that last a year or at least half a year. I really liked the new Rascal. It's my favorite rear wheel and I've rocked it for almost a year. I think this will be my number one go to tyre rack for a long time. It is faster and at the same time holds and does not clog. Otherwise, the predecessor of my favorite was always Scylla. Scylla is a legend! I put it first and it certainly does what I need. Holds up, tough enough to go where I want and it has a good weight too.

How do you see the future of tyres in road cycling? Now the trend is to increase the width of the casing. Do you agree with it?

I'm just watching what's going on. Especially on the road. For me, it was blowing 10 into the atmosphere and the tyres had a size of 19 max 21. What is being driven today is a trend that I would not have predicted even by mistake. But it works. It even holds better, so it makes sense. However, I am not a fan of tubeless tyres on the road. Yes, it drives better, but if you get a front tyre puncture at high speeds, you fall. So I see it as a bit of a weakness here. For mountain bikes, a tubeless tire is great and wider rims are a plus. It handles better and is more readable in corners.

What do you follow in sports and therefore in your life?

I have a saying that fulfills me. It was told to me by my mother (not Chinese) and it works.  "A flying stone shall not be overgrown with moss." This is what I follow and will follow until it knocks me down. Well, when I joined the pros, a wise person from the professional peloton told me something that can also be applied to life, sports, and business. To me it means that if you do things really properly and with love, sooner or later you will find success."

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