Having proven his form and condition at the Australian National Championships earlier in the month, Nathan Haas has confirmed he will be a protagonist in the fight for the Tour Down Under podium across the first three stages of the WorldTour opener.
There was no change to Haas' fifth place overall on stage 3 to Victor Harbor, as he safely navigated the sprint stage while several of his rivals lost time and dropped down the rankings.
Fifth overall in 2014, the Dimension Data rider would take a podium place at the end of the week but is also looking for the possibility of a stage win. Stage 4 of the race finishes in Campbelltown, where the 27-year-old finished second to Cadel Evans in 2014, and is probably Haas' best opportunity for a stage win with Willunga Hill likely to be won by a climber, and Sunday's stage by the likes of a Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott).
"Yes and no," Haas told Cyclingnews when asked if he is aiming for the podium. "Obviously, I want it but they put a lot of time into us and there is not enough time bonuses on the road. So I think if creative opportunities present themselves, I will take the risk but I think maybe a stage win would also be a really nice thing to take away."
Richie Porte holds a 20-second advantage over the injured Gorka Izaguire (Movistar) and Orica-Scott's Esteban Chaves is a further two seconds back, putting the BMC rider in an enviable position ahead of Willunga Hill. Whereas in previous years he has been chasing the general classification lead in the run-up to Willunga, Porte holds the aces going into the queen stage of the race.
Seventh in 2014 when Porte started his winning streak on Willunga, Haas explained that his Paracombe performance has him feeling confident and willing to take on the status as a dangerous rival in the fight for the podium knowing that his current form and ability to steal intermediate sprint seconds ensure he will be a man to watch.
"It is good signs for Willunga and I think it would have worried all the guys around me that I am in front because I already have a couple of seconds and they know seconds present themselves on the road and they're not getting them and Jay [McCarthy] and I will. It is going to be an interesting race but it's still very much ten guys fighting for the top five to 10 position," he explained
While Haas is planning for success, he isn't banking on any particular plan as he explained Miles Scotson's late attack to take out the green and gold jersey has him willing to roll the dice and leave nothing to chance.
"I spoke to Miles Scotson just before nationals when we were in the same camper together getting really," he recounted. "I said 'what's your plan man?' and he said, 'I don't know, I'll just see how it goes and run it from there'. So maybe I'll take a leaf out of his book.
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