This time last year Cervelo TestTeam was riding on the crest of a wave after Thor Hushovd won a stage of the Tour of California and Heinrich Haussler claimed two stages at the Volta ao Algarve. But in 2010 the team head into Saturday’s Het Nieuwsblad without a win and both Classics superstars lacking their top form.
While Hushovd is recovering from illness, Haussler is on the comeback trail himself after suffering a knee injury in Algarve last week. Yet despite the lack of results for the men in black, Haussler is full of confidence that he can walk away with a Classics win this year.
“We’ve not had a win yet but had a bit of bad luck in Oman,” Haussler told Cyclingnews. “It’s not been as smooth as last year. Last year leading up to this race I’d won two stages in Algarve but I don’t need to win small stages in those races now. For me I only need to win one race this year.”
Haussler has already publicly stated that he will be at his peak for the Tour of Flanders, a race he podiumed at last year. For him, this weekend’s racing will be about gaining valuable training miles before Paris-Nice, where he’ll look to again train hard.
“I’ve not got the form to win this weekend lets put it like that,” he said. “I had to pull out in Algarve so I don’t have the hard training in my legs. Also I’ve not been able to prepare for this race. If everyone else is at a high level it will be hard but I didn’t come into the season to win this race.
“The form is there but I don’t want to make a big drama about my knee,” he added. “I’m scared to go deep in case it hurts again. There was a chance of not racing this weekend and if it’s not good enough I won’t race but I should be okay.”
Haussler was the revelation of last year’s Spring races, finishing on the podium in Milan Samremo and Flanders and he believes that along with the usual suspects of Quick Step and Rabobank, Cervelo can dominate the racing. One team he believes are short of that stature is Team Sky.
“They’ve got a strong team and Edvald Boasson Hagen has the biggest motor in the peloton by miles, but he needs more experience,” said Haussler. “For sure he has the best legs but there are riders that are 80 per cent as strong as some of the others and are still in the top three and for these Classics. You need to use your brain, have a good team, sports director and equipment and I think we’ve got a bigger advantage.
“But they’re still in their first year and they’re like us last year but at the end of the day the strongest guy wins,” he added. “They’ve still got strong guys riders, like Edvald, Hayman, Flecha but Edvald is going to be hard to beat.”
Despite the final compliment Haussler was still frustrated from the Tour of Qatar where, according to Haussler, Sky gained few friends on the road with their style of riding.
“I’m still angry with how they rode and I don’t think they’ve made many friends in the peloton,” he said. “They’ve had the yellow jersey in races and said they don’t need to ride and that’s the opposite of what you’re meant to do.
“In Qatar if we’d been in second position we would have put two men on the front after 10 minutes just riding but they didn’t put one guy on the front and then Garmin started riding,” Haussler said, referring to the stage when two lone riders gained so much time on the peloton the overall was virtually decided after one road stage.
“And then in Oman, you don’t take a piss if there’s a side wind,” he added. “You just don’t do it. It’s their own fault. They have no right to get angry if they’re riding half road and then riding through the feed zone at 65kph. It’s their own fault.”