Human Powered Health’s newest sports director Alex Sans Vega brings a great deal of WorldTour experience to both men’s and women’s racing programs.
Sans Vega joins the team from ex-WorldTour squad Qhubeka-Assos, and carries with him a decade of sports directing experience, not to mention a passion for helping cycling teams grow to be their best.
What separates Sans Vega from the other top sports directors is that he started out as a soigneur.
“I never made it as a pro cyclist, specifically because of an injury, so I was a swanny. I started off doing massage and being the mechanic for U23 teams and then stepped up to work for Team CSC.”
Sans Vega spent eight years with CSC and even won a Tour de France, helping Carlos Sastre to the 2008 title.
“I had a really good relationship with Carlos. After he won the Tour, he moved from Team CSC to Cervelo Test Team and I moved with him. It was at that point I had the chance to swap from swanny to DS.”
From there he moved to Endura Racing, a British Continental team, which gave him the chance to have fun and recover from what he described as “burn out” from too much work and long stints away from home during his time with Cervelo.
To Sans Vega, there’s a similar vibe at Human Powered Health today as there was in NetApp Endura at the start of the last decade.
“This team gave me the same feeling as when I was at Endura, [back then] we were a small ProConti team with ambitions to grow up. Nowadays, that team is the Bora-Hansgrohe WorldTeam.”
A return to the ‘startup’ atmosphere of a men’s ProTeam was a big draw for Sans Vega.
“I really enjoyed the early stages of helping NetApp to become what they are today. Obviously, I’m a small part of what they are today, but I think my contribution was a good one.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to doing with Human Powered Health as well.”
With his unusual route into the driving seat of a team car (almost all top-level directors were at some point a professional racer), Sans Vega brings a different perspective. Indeed, he says your experience is not as important as your personality when it comes to being a great DS. After all, top pros don’t always make the best coaches.
“You can be the best either because you have really high talent, or because you’re a really hard worker. If all [your success as a racer] is down to natural talent, it’s more difficult for those people to be a good coach, trainer or DS – because they compare themselves all the time.”
What seemed or seems easy to the preternaturally talented, is challenging for the majority – and so it’s hard for them to approach these difficulties from a place of empathy.
On what drew him to Human Powered Health, Sans Vega is clear; it’s all about the journey.
“I knew already when it was known as Rally Cycling that the team was trying to help US riders to become WorldTour level. And that was one of the goals they had when they started up a few years ago.
“The team has been improving carefully and continues to grow, and now we are getting there.”
Sans Vega has reunited with fellow newcomer Hendrik Redant, also formerly of Qhubeka-Assos, and has already been making an impact out on the road. After only a few days directing from the car, Ben King pulled on the KOM jersey at the Volta Valenciana and Stephen Bassett took second on the opening day of Ruta del Sol.