Nathan Haas understood the 2012 season would require a huge adjustment after stepping up from the Australian-based Continental Genesys Wealth Advisers team straight to the WorldTour with Garmin-Sharp. The 23-year-old was picked up by the ProTeam after a dominant domestic season in 2011 but he knew it was his "engine" that needed to be developed.
One of the biggest challenged for Haas, who spent 2010 and 2011 riding for Genesys before moving to Jonathan Vaughters squad, was not simply the added race distance but trying to manage what he calls the "training-to-fatigue ratio".
"I'm doing these 200km races which I feel I've adapted to in the race but it's actually the recovery time in between them which I'm trying to get right," he told Cyclingnews. "It's learning to push through fatigue or not."
"You can back up day to day but it's the ability to back-up, even with training, after 240km races which are at a much higher intensity than I've ever been used to. It's been all about how much recovery my body needs."
With a full season which included over 80 days of racing, the neo-professional says he's started his pre-season training with a new level of "depth in his legs" that should lead him to line-up at his first grand tour in 2013.
"They knew I'd had some results against these guys so I didn't lack the ability but what was always lacking was the engine," Haas told Cyclingnews. "The team really worked on building that engine by putting me in the longer races.
"I'm already finding I'm at a much higher level than I was last year. I can already feel a whole new depth in my legs that I didn't have.
"The team wants me to build that and I'm really relishing the opportunity to do a grand tour. I'm really committing to do the hard yards in the season to prove I can work my way into one of those squads," he said.
His grand tour debut is by no means certain and for the moment he's concentrating on securing a spot on the Australian national team for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour where he wants to defend last year's title. Haas will then head to Ballarat for the National Championships with Tour Down Under his final race in Australia.
"I'm hoping to get a spot at the Herald Sun Tour on the national team. That's quite a special race because that's where everything kicked off for me. I would really like to be part of that event. It's a big part of Australian cycling history. I would certainly like to go and defend the title."
Haas demonstrated his class at last year's Tour Down Under when he attacked on the Willunga stage after being in the day's breakaway but admits his Garmin-Sharp team for this year's race is highly competitive. He'll be heading to the opening WorldTour round with good condition but the team will have a number of cards to play for the sprints and the general classification.
"We have a really exciting team for Tour Down Under. We have a real southern hemisphere-flare in our team. We have probably the most Australians in our team apart from GreenEdge. We've got Lachlan Morton, Rohan Dennis, Steele Von Hoff, myself and Jack Bauer from New Zealand. Jack was 11th last year and Rohan was 5th so we already have two guys who are definitely GC candidates.
"Steele Von Hoff is one of the quickest guys coming into the sprinting ranks at the moment. I think we are going to have a really exciting and explosive team and also a very young team."
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