Heinrich Haussler to skip Tour de France, focus on Classics & Olympics
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Heinrich Haussler to skip Tour de France, focus on Classics & Olympics

by Kyle Moore at 6:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Australian working with Garmin-Barracuda lead-out in Tour Down Under

Heinrich HausslerThough he carries ambitious goals into the 2012 season, Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) will once again forego the Tour de France in favour of an approach that will allow him to peak during the Spring Classics, and again for the Olympic road race.

Speaking with SBS Cycling Central, Haussler explained his reasons for skipping another Grand Boucle, which he has not ridden since 2009 when he won a stage with a solo flier while riding for Cervelo Test Team.

“In this team, when you go to the Tour de France, there’s Tyler (Farrar) there going for the green or going for the sprints, then also the team’s going for GC and for the team classification,” Haussler explained.

“It’s not just like you can sit in the bunch and take it easy, you’re always, every day, working for someone and on your limit. So most probably I’m going to come out of the Tour just absolutely dead. There’s only six days to the road race (after the Tour reaches Paris) so that’s why it’s absolutely not an option.”

Several big-name riders including BMC Racing’s Cadel Evans have mentioned attempting the Tour/Olympics double, but Haussler is more concerned with finding top form again after several seasons of bad luck and injuries.

After a breakout season in 2009, the Aussie struggled with a persistent knee injury in 2010, and struggled to find his role on the newly merged Garmin-Cervelo squad last year.

Known to wear his emotions on his sleeve, Haussler insisted that his belief in himself has not wavered.

“You gain confidence automatically when you ride and I’m not lacking on confidence. I just need to get some more racing and I’d like to win a stage here and just get ready for the Classics,” Haussler stated, referring to his season debut, currently taking place at the Santos Tour Down Under.

“I think the team would like me to go good in Flanders but I see my chances as bigger in San Remo just because I missed it back in 2009 and was that close to Cav. It’s kind of still in my head and something I still really want to win.”

Haussler has begun his season in the warm Australian weather, building toward his first peak in the spring. After skipping the Tour, he will use several smaller races to build form again for London in early August. Garmin-Barracuda team manager Allan Peiper is confident that Haussler is on the right track.

“He’s on track for the Classics and that’s where we really want him to be on top of his game - San Remo, Harelbeke, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix - those four races are basically going to be the pinnacle of his season and the next big goal is the Olympics,” he said.

After Thor Hushovd transferred to BMC Racing, more room was made for Haussler to pursue his own interests in the Spring Classics. Peiper indicated that the 27-year-old was ready to ask for help to try and turn his Milan-Sanremo dream into a reality.

“What he’s asked for, for some time, is a lead-out train and guys to help him specifically and we’re trying to build that and give that to him,” Peiper added. “But that also puts the ball back in his court. He needs to also show his leadership qualities with that because having a team also means controlling a team and building the team and telling the team what you want. That’s also a work in progress that we’re working on right now at the Tour Down Under.”

As possible help for Haussler, Garmin-Barracuda brought in Koldo Fernandez and Alex Rasmussen, who team up with an already veteran Classics roster. But at the Tour Down Under, the team is breaking in another new recruit in Jack Bauer, formerly of Endura Racing.

“Jack Bauer is one of the guys that we recruited specifically to go into that lead-out train for Heino,” Peiper said. “He was 18th in the world time-trial championship and he won a bunch sprint in the Tour of Utah last year as well so those two qualities should make for a good lead-out guy - not the last man but say the second last man.

“[On Wednesday, Bauer] led out Heino and Heino told him to jump at 500 [meters], which he did, and Heino hesitated and got boxed in and didn’t follow him, so they’re learning how to work off each other and to refine the way they execute in the final.”

But with the season just a few days old, Peiper mentioned that unfamiliarity still reigns, and much work is yet to be done leading to the spring.

“Some of these guys have literally not met apart from a training camp in Boulder and they weren’t really training,” he concluded. “They haven’t raced with each other, they don’t know each other’s qualities, they don’t trust each other in the sense of ‘can I follow you through a gap or not,’ so there’s a lot of things we’ve got to put in place to come together as a team, as it were.”

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