For the first time in his career, Marco Haller will finish the season with 90 race days to his name. The 26-year-old Katusha-Alpecin rider, who started his season at the Etoile de Bessèges on February 1, will conclude the year with the Tour of Guangxi October 25.
Another first for the former Austrian champion is his appearance at two Grand Tours in the one season as he lined out at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana. It is little surprise that Haller is feeling fatigued after a long year of racing.
"I volunteered for it just to come here again. I need to say that after a pretty long season I am pretty empty, but still I enjoy racing," Haller told Cyclingnews of his presence at the race.
"I am a bit surprised that I am struggling with the jet lag and now more than yesterday. I want to get it going, and I want to ride. We will see how it turns out at the end of the week."
While the Tour of Guangxi is a new race for 2017, Haller has previous WorldTour experience in China. Haller rode the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Tour of Beijing, winning a stage in Chang Ping ahead of Alessandro Petacchi.
“It is a long time since I have been here so everything feels pretty new again the landscape is much nicer than Beijing downtown, obviously, and I hope that we see something nicer in the coming days," he reflected.
Kittel's lead out and a home World Championships
Haller will close out his season when the race wraps up in Guilin on Tuesday afternoon, and prepare for an off-season of doing "Nothing at all. I just want to do nothing at all for a while. Just be home."
He will then turn his attention to the 2018 season where he will likely be a key man in Marcel Kittel's lead-out train, repeating his role with Alexander Kristoff for the new team signing.
While Haller is yet to determine his race programme for the new season, the World Championships on home soil in Innsbruck is one race he is sure to watch from the sidelines, with the course better suited to the climbers than the sprinters.
"It is pretty sad that when you have the opportunity of a World Championships in your home country, but I will not be part of the team," he said.
Haller has been a member of the elite Austrian team at the Worlds since 2014, and was a fifth-place finisher at the U23 Worlds in 2011. Having taken part in several editions of the Worlds across three different continents, Haller remarked that Bergen has set a new standard but is confident that Innsbruck can match the fervour of the Norwegians.
"Bergen set the level really high because it was an amazing atmosphere but the advantage that Austria could have is the central location. All the Italians, Spanish, Dutch and Belgians can get there easily. Cycling is still a central European sport and if everybody fancies it, they can go there. I think Innsbruck can have a super Worlds," said Haller of his country, which last hosted the Worlds in 2006.
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