Bill Haelsen, who had worked as a trainer and soigneur for Team Type 1 and, most recently, UnitedHealthcare, died Monday night in his home of Asheville, North Carolina, at age 45. His friends and former colleagues remembered Haelsen on Tuesday.
“Bill’s heart was bigger than his body,” said Haelsen’s closest friend, Lesli Andrews, of the athletic 200-pounder. “He was such a loving and wonderful man. We were great as a team and he was a fantastic trainer.”
UnitedHealthcare team manager Mike Tamayo remembered Haelsen as “always the last one standing when work had to be done, and incredibly passionate about his riders and their performances… I remember many times when one of our riders would win a race and Bill would be more excited than the athlete himself.”
UnitedHealthcare rider Rory Sutherland, who worked with Haelsen from 2009 to 2011, had a good relationship with the athletic and easy-to-smile soigneur.
“I think he really enjoyed being around us and being part of the team, and he was an integral part to us,” Sutherland said of his time with Haelsen.
Echoing Tamayo’s words, Competitive Cyclist team director Gord Fraser wrote in an email: “I had a chance to work with Bill at [Team Type 1] and [UnitedHealthcare]. He was a true friend and a fantastic asset to the team. Always hard working, never complained and always calm under pressure, but most importantly the riders respected and valued his contribution.”
Haelsen, known for his own intensive on- and off-the-bike training regimens, “could help anybody with any issue, and he gave so much of himself to so many others,” Andrews said. “Bill was just amazing in the way he worked with and treated everyone.”
A cause of death is not known at this time.