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Haussler: Mohoric is a freak, anything is possible for him

SANREMO ITALY MARCH 19 Matej Mohoric of Slovenia and Team Bahrain Victorious competes in the breakaway during the 113th MilanoSanremo 2022 a 293km one day race from Milano to Sanremo MilanoSanremo on March 19 2022 in Sanremo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) on the attack at the end of Milan-San Remo (Image credit: Tim de WaeleGetty Images)

Bahrain Victorious road captain Heinrich Haussler believes "anything is possible" for Matej Mohorič after the Slovenian champion landed victory at Milan-San Remo last weekend.

The 38-year-old did not race Milan-San Remo but is in action at Wednesday's Classic Brugge-De Panne as the spring cobbled Classics season looms. On Friday, at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, he'll link up with Mohorič, who he insists will be one of the leading riders over the next couple of weeks.

Haussler, a former runner-up at San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, has ridden with Mohorič for the past four years and watched him develop into a Monument-winning rider and someone who is perhaps still only scratching the surface of his potential.

"Matej, in my eyes, can do anything – absolutely anything," Haussler told Cyclingnews in Bruges on Wednesday morning.

"The thing is, he had COVID-19 after Valenciana, he had a bad crash at Strade Bianche, he missed Tirreno-Adriatico, and he couldn't train properly, so to do what he did in Milan-San Remo, I was blown away. Unbelievable.

"Matej, in my eyes, anything is possible."

Despite Mohorič's questionable build-up to Milan-San Remo, Haussler knew precisely how prepared he was.

"He told us two months ago," he said of the famous dropper post that helped Mohorič plummet down the Poggio and reach the finish line on the Via Roma alone.

"He told us exactly what he was going to do, exactly which corner he was going to hit the front. I wasn't sure how his form was, but I was watching on TV and waiting for the camera to pan around, and when I saw him there at the top of the Poggio… it sounds cocky or smart-arse but at that point I knew he was going to win."

There were, however, a few heart-in mouth moments, as Mohorič took every conceivable risk to maximise his advantage, having to bunny hop out of a gutter and correct a bump that nearly took him through someone's front door.

"He was all-in, and I guess you need a bit of luck, but he's a freak. He had this plan and he executed it to not even 100 per cent but 1000 per cent. I was over the moon for him."

In the absence of Sonny Colbrelli, who was taken to hospital with cardiac problems after the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Monday, Mohorič will take full command of Bahrain Victorious for the cobbled Classics.

"Matej is a bit like the brains behind the team - always thinking about how he can go faster, more aero, tubeless tyre, tyre pressures… But really, he's just a normal guy, absolutely normal," Haussler said. "He's the first guy and last guy at the dinner table, talking to everybody and bringing everybody together."

In the past, the Slovenian has been accused of using his strength in the wrong places, launching doomed attacks as if out of boredom. That's something that Haussler says comes with age and experience, although he's keen for Mohorič not to become de-natured and lose his attacking instincts entirely.

"He really stepped up last year and is steeping up again now, and knows he can't afford to do that anymore. He's learned from mistakes and has become wiser and more mature. That's part of the game," Haussler said.

"When I was younger, I was the same – when I had good legs I wanted to attack. I just wanted to race. I'm a racer, I'm not there just to sit in the peloton and make up the numbers. With Matej, a lot of the time people are like 'ah what's he doing?' but he's a racer, he has a licence he can do whatever he wants."

And that extends to winning all sorts of different bike races. As the cobbles hit and the Tour of Flanders comes into view, Haussler finished on the same point: "With Matej, in my eyes, anything is possible." 

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.