MCKINNEY, Texas — The Tour de France is the most famous bicycle race in the world. The 2,200-mile journey spans three weeks, concluding on the iconic Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Five thousand miles away, DeLayne Haga has almost every stage on DVR, because her son Chad is one of only three Americans in this year's race.
Chad Haga was born in Midland, but grew up in McKinney. He started riding a bike at five years old. The flame was lit. Haga played with BMX bikes — he even built his own. He raced mountain bikes and eventually road bikes.
He went to college at Texas A&M, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. When Haga was a senior, his father Chris was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.
"When Chris was first diagnosed, it felt unfair," DeLayne said.
Unfair because Chris was a non-smoker. But, he fanned the flame that burned within Haga.
"He said, 'I don't want Chad to go thru life wondering 'What if?,'" DeLayne recalled. "So, he called Chad and said, 'Go for it. Pursue your dream.' And, he has."
With his father's blessing, Haga turned pro. But in 2016, his career was nearly cut short.
While training with his team in Spain, Haga and his teammates were struck by a car driving on the wrong side of the road. He suffered a fractured eye socket and received nearly 100 stitches.
"It's a miracle. It's truly a miracle," DeLayne said when asked how the injuries were not more severe.
Later that year, Haga experienced emotional pain as well when Chris passed away at age 56.
When asked what father-son advice resonated the most with him over the years, Haga said his father didn't care about him winning, but rather, giving everything he had to honor the gifts Chad had been given.
Last month on Italy — three years after his father’s death — Chad Haga won the final stage at the Giro d'Italia. It was his first major victory.
This month, Haga is at the Tour de France and riding alongside the world’s best. His mother DeLayne is watching from afar. His father is, too.