With Heinrich Haussler and Andreas Klier sidelined by injury, Thor Hushovd will head to this weekend's Tour of Flanders as the sole leader of Cervélo TestTeam. The Norwegian said that although Paris-Roubaix remains his major Classics goal, he'll still target a strong result on Sunday.
"I'd rather be good on Sunday because then I know my form is there [for Roubaix], but we'll see what happens," Hushovd told Cyclingnews shortly after the Cervélo press conference announcing Haussler's withdrawal from both Flanders and Roubaix.
Confirmation of Haussler's withdrawal from the Classics on Tuesday followed a run of misfortune for the squad. Last Saturday, Hushovd himself was forced to abandon the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke after just 14 kilometers due to food poisoning, and just hours later, Klier suffered severe concussion in a crash at the same race.
"I was vomiting just before the start [of E3 Prijs]. I had nothing left, so I just turned around," Hushovd said. "This year everything's gone a little bit against us - it's bad, but hey, things happen."
Despite his team's bad luck and the imminent hurdle of racing Flanders without his German teammates, Hushovd was able to put a positive spin on the situation.
"I think it's the opposite, because we're weaker now," he said, when asked what affect the team's circumstance would have on expectations this weekend. "Now we probably don't have as much pressure as we had last year."
While Hushovd will head to Bruges for the start of Flanders on Sunday intent on a good performance, victory at Roubaix a week later retains its lustre as the title for which he longs. Last year, the 32-year-old finished third, but was robbed of his chance to contest a sprint in the race's famed velodrome finale after a crash on the cobbles at Carrefour de l'Arbre.
"[If I had to choose one] I would have to say Roubaix, it's my favourite race," said Hushovd. "Of course it makes it more difficult without Heinrich and Andreas Klier, but I just have to race my race and try to do as well as I did last year. Then it's up to the legs to see if I can be there for the win or not."