Note from editor: Although ruled out of the Classics through injury, Heinrich Haussler will be writing a blog for Cyclingnews during the spring. Follow him as he documents his return to fitness ahead of the Tour de France.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year I was a favourite for the Classics. At the start of Flanders the race announcers called my name as I made my way to the sign in. People cheered my name as if I was a gladiator heading into battle, I had great legs. I felt amazing and I finished second. Second! This year I won’t even have the chance to finish Flanders.
I’m on my own, in my room at the Cervelo hotel and in a few short minutes I have to give one of the hardest press conferences I’ve ever going to make. I’m about to announce that I’m pulling out of Flanders and Roubaix, the two biggest races on my calendar, the races I dream about winning. My Classics season is over. The races I wanted to win gone without even a pedal stroke and without even reaching the start line.
Why does it still hurt so much? I mean, I knew this was almost an inevitability after I pulled out of Paris-Nice. I sat in the team car the noise of the race radio crackling through the silences but I couldn’t hear what was being said. My mind was a million miles away. All I could do was gaze out of the window thinking about how bad I felt, my hopes of Classics success disappearing. It was over.
But I’ll admit I didn’t give up all hope that day. When I got home each morning I’d wake up, and before I’d even opened my eyes I’d start moving my knee, praying that it had miraculously healed overnight. No such luck though and I’ve been diagnosed with a tear in a ligament just above my knee.
When it was diagnosed it was some relief. It meant I could forget about the Classics and head towards other races. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride my bike in about a week. It’ll be small steps though – an hour here, an hour there until me, the team and my doctors are sure the problem as totally gone.
Until then I have a lots of hard work to do. Eight hours a day of therapy to be exact. I’m coming to terms that there are other races I can aim for, like the Tour de France where I won a stage last year. Then there’s the Worlds where I could also ride, although I’ve not made a decision on who’ll I’ll be riding for. But for sure, I can come back strong for the Tour, especially for the first week.
I’ll still be writing my Classics blog though. I know I won’t be riding but I’ll still be busy with my recovery and as much as it will be painfully to watch, I’ll still be tuning in for the Classics. In for the next few days I’ll be having more scans.
I need to dash now. I can hear the journalists downstairs. It’s time to go and give them the news.
Just one last thing. I’m here to win races and that’s what I want to do. I want to come back and prove a few things and I’m really motivated. This gladiator might be down but he’s not out.