Haussler’s passion for the Classics remains

Heinrich Haussler has welcomed fellow Classics specialist Sylvain Chavanel to the IAM Cycling squad, telling Cyclingnews that the pair can work together at capturing success for the team next Spring.

Chavanel signed for the team from Omega Pharma QuickStep, where, despite wining stages in the Tour de France and enjoying a spell in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, he failed to win a Monument. The closest he came to winning one of cycling's most prestigious one-day races came during the Tour of Flanders in 2011. Having broken free with what looked like an unbeatable Fabian Cancellara, the Frenchman dug deep to claim second behind Nick Nuyens and ahead of Cancellara.

Now 34 years of age, Chavanel has signed for the Swiss team on a two-year deal, and Haussler, who beat the Frenchman to win a stage of the 2009 Tour de France, believes that the two riders can compliment each other's racing styles.

"He's a machine. For me he's one of the best riders in the peloton. He can do anything," Haussler told Cyclingnews from his winter base in Europe.

"Him coming over is just going to make the team stronger. A lot of the guys in the team are strong but it's also about having a map in your head and knowing what's coming up. We all spent some time in Belgium riding together and that's going to really help us next year. This year there were a few times when I was by myself but the thing with the Classics is that you need a strong team so we're doing a lot of work on that, a lot of testing of equipment, it's a great situation."

Haussler enjoyed a strong start to the 2013 season, picking up three top tens at the Tour of Qatar before starting his Classics campaign. Despite two relatively disappointing seasons at Garmin in 2011 and 2012, this season showed that the 29-year-old could still be competitive with fourth in Gent-Wevelgem, sixth in Flanders and 11th in Paris-Roubaix. It was his best haul of spring results since 2009 and after recovering from another injury set back in the middle of this season, Haussler is confident that he and Chavanel can compete against the new Trek team, Omega Pharma and Cannondale next spring.

"It's not just me and Chavanel. First of all we have to be in top shape but if we're 100 per cent fit then we're going to have a strong team. I like the new course at Flanders, it suits me better than the old one," he told Cyclingnews.

"Chavanel has had his best races in the Classics when he's gone from a long way. He's got that massive engine and can do that. I'm more explosive, will try and hang on and will hope that there's a sprint from a small group. We compliment each other."

"When I heard that he was coming to the team I was really happy. The Classics mean so much to me but you want to have the best possible team around you. If I don't win then I want it to be someone from the team I'm in."

Chavanel aside, Haussler will be hoping to build on the strong end of season he enjoyed in 2013. A crash in the Tour de Suisse in June left the Australian with a broken pelvis but he returned within a matter of months to finish fourth in Paris-Bourges and sixth in Paris-Tours.

"In my first few races I struggled and I was scared being in the peloton. It was cramped and hectic in the bunch and I was just always on the breaks. So I just used those early races as training and then worked towards the last few races," he told Cyclingnews.

He will remain in relative isolation in Switzerland, mixing training on the road with cross-country skiing, before meeting up with his teammates in early January. Opting for a relatively slow build up, the former podium placer in Milan San Remo and the Tour of Flanders will start his season at the Tour of Qatar.

"You have these training camps in November and December and you just end up smashing yourself. Then you build up your form pretty quick but it's still four months until the Classics and it's impossible to hold that form until then. Some other guys might be able to hold form for that long but I certainly can't."

"With IAM they let me know what I have to do and just let me build up slowly. I start with a small training camp in January, then I'll go to altitude and then do Qatar and Oman."

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