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Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) catches his breath after victory
Form determines the status of Australian "recruit"
Despite being seriously considered to ride for the Australian national team at this year's UCI road world championships in Geelong, Australia, Heinrich Haussler was not a member of the final squad which was announced earlier today.
Cycling Australia's national performance director, Shayne Bannan, told Cyclingnews that his poor form resulting from a knee injury which has plagued him for most of the season - the same ailment that forced him out of the Tour de France - kept the Australia-born, former German representative out of his new national set-up.
"His knee is just about 100 per cent - where he is lacking is the race conditioning. His rehabilitation is going extremely well," said Bannan.
"He's had limited racing this year and really his focus now has turned towards next season and making sure he's getting his rehabilitation right and he's not rushing into it [racing]."
Today Haussler released a statement on the Cervélo TestTeam website, outlining the reasons he won't be racing in Australia. "If I were to go to the start line at the world championships, I would want to be 100 per cent in shape and able to ride for the victory. This will unfortunately not be possible for me," he said.
"It would have been a dream to start on home soil but I am not ready yet. My main focus is now already on next season, where I want to perform well again in my favourite spring classic races."
This was the sentiment expressed by Bannan, who recognised that Haussler's attributes as a rider were well suited to the race route, which includes potentially windswept sections and 3,076m of vertical gain over the 260km parcours.
"It would have been a fairly significant gamble in selecting him but in saying that we were quite comfortable in selecting him in the final 15 a number of weeks ago because at that stage his rehabilitation was going extremely well and he may have still been quite a good option."
Haussler was indeed a surprise selection in the revised 'long list' of riders who would be considered for the final squad for the October 3 elite men's road race, although his record of second places in both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders last season indicates that there's a significant likelihood he would have thrived on the course had he been fit.
Asked if selectors would have made room for Haussler had he been in the requisite physical condition, given the attributes of the rider matching those of the race's course, Bannan was confident they could have found a place for the 26-year-old Tour de France stage winner in the ranks.
"If he was available and in form, then it really gets down to whether we could really afford to have another leader or another guy in there," he replied.
"I think we could [have], based on the dynamics of the race and the ability and honesty of these guys to decide and say, 'OK, I'm really on today' or 'I'm not having such a good day, I'll be working'. That's no different to what's really happened in the past."