Heinrich Haussler will forgo the defence of his Australian national title next month with the IAM Cycling rider instead focusing on the early-season European classics. Last December Haussler spent several weeks training in Victoria with his teammates to prepare for the challenging circuit race but will remain in Europe for the winter.
"I love this jersey but for 2016 I just can't fit defending my title into my program because I really want to concentrate on the Classics, but I will be back in 2017," said Haussler in a statement from Cycling Australia.
Haussler won the green and gold jersey having got the better of Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) in a sprint from the day's major breakaway. It would be the the only win of the season for the 31-year-old who had his Giro d'Italia ambitions hindered after a heavy crash on the first road stage.
"I'll never forget that day and riding in the Aussie colours in 2015 is also something I'll never forget. Every training ride I did this year, when I went to put on the Aussie champion kit, it was really a special feeling," Haussler said.
Haussler has finished second at both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders and sixth at Paris-Roubaix. Having shared the Classics leadership with Sylvain Chavanel in recent years at IAM Cycling, Haussler is likely to have greater support during the spring as he looks for his first European win since the 2014 Bayern Rundfahrt.
IAM Cycling are likely to be represented by Leigh Howard and David Tanner in the men's road race.
The Australian national championships are held in Buninyong, Victoria with the men's and women's road races both held on January 10.