Haussler to return at 4 Jours de Dunkerque for season debut

Australian finally recovered from knee injury after months out

The knee problems that have kept Heinrich Haussler out of action so far this season have finally been resolved, and the Australian is ready to make his first appearance for Bahrain Merida in the 4 Jours de Dunkerque, starting Tuesday.

"To be racing again feels like Christmas, Easter, Fathers' Day, and my birthday all in one," said Haussler in a line-up announcement from the team.

"A lot of hard work has been done and I am ready to race. I am very confident and excited to get out there on the road with the team."

The 33-year old injured his left knee in a crash in November 2016. After a series of conservative treatments, it was decided to operate in January, causing him to miss the official presentation of his new team.

He was able to attend the team training camp in January, but that experience "caused a significant slowdown of the recovery program", the team said at the time .

Haussler had been expected to lead the team in the Spring Classics but the injury and slow recovery held him out of all racing.

He completed his first six-hour plus training ride on April 20, he reported on Facebook, and earlier this month checked out the World Championships road race course in Bergen, Norway, with fellow Australian Michael Matthews (Sunweb).

The Bahrain-Merida team will head to Dunkerque looking for stage wins through NIccolo Bonifazio. 

"We will go to this race with a young team and two very experienced riders, Borut Božič and Heinrich Haussler. For both of them it will be a comeback: for Borut after the strong start of the season and for Haussler after the injury. We will try everything to win a stage and try something for GC, even though we don't have a GC rider," said directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit. 

"On this race there is no time trial stage, so the race will be pretty open every day. The main problems will be the cross wind and the cobblestones on the first stage and also the 5th stage – a hilly stage which will most probably make a difference for general classification. We have a nice mix between young and two experienced riders and we hope for the best."

Bahrain-Merida for 4 Jours de Dunkerque: Niccolo Bonifazio, Borut Božič, Feng Chun-Kai, Heinrich Haussler, Ion Ander Insausti, Domen Novak, David Per and Meiyin Wang.

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