Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) may not have performed at Milan-San Remo since his second place to Mark Cavendish in 2009 but that hasn’t stopped the Australian from talking up his chance ahead of Sunday’s La Primavera.
Haussler will line-up on Sunday as IAM Cycling’s undisputed leader and with the squad hoping to propel him back into Classics contention. It’s been a difficult few years for the 29-year-old who has struggled to reach his 2009 form after a number of injuries and setbacks.
“In the next two or three weeks I’ll be at my top level,” Haussler told Cyclingnews.
“I’m here to win. That’s for sure. It might sound cocky and a bit overrated but I‘ve not shown anyone how strong I am this year. The next five races are the most important but I’m going to have to use my head and have a bit of luck on the day.”
“I’ve not won anything and I’ve not really shone but now I’ve just been building up for the races coming up. This year I’ve been saving myself so I can peak at the right moment.”
Haussler comes into the Classics after a decent but unspectacular opening segment to the season with three top tens in the Tour of Oman followed by two in Paris-Nice. He said that he generates between 100 and 150 less watts in sprints than a few seasons ago but that his overall strength on climbs has improved.
“Paris-Nice was solid, hard training. I was always there, but there was just something missing in the finals but I was always there with the last 30-40. Climbing-wise I’ve never been this good before.”
While his form gives little indication that he may be able to live with the likes of Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali on the Cipressa or Poggio, Haussler points to the weather as perhaps his greatest ally.
The forecasters have predicted cold conditions with rain throughout the race, elements that Haussler has thrived on in the past.
“The weather is going to be perfect for me and shit for a lot of other guys. I think we’ll see a small group get to the finish.”
“This year I don’t see it being a sprint. The only guy I’m really worried about is Sagan but it’s going to be a good race for guys like Goss, Hushovd, riders who like the shitty weather and the cold. It’s 6 or 7 degrees with rain, that’s almost freezing and that’s really hard. Do that for 6 or 7 hours and half the peloton will be blocked in the head and a lot of other guys won’t be able to move their legs.”
“If you’re going to wait for a sprint you’ll be waiting until next year. Once they light it up at Le Manie there’s only going to be 70 guys left and with the downhill on the wet it’s going to be so dangerous. In 2011 it was just a little wet and there were crashes and by the time we met the main road there were only 40 riders. I hope they light things up on the climbs. My climbing has improved and it means we’ll get rid of some of the sprinters.”