• Australian cycling champion Heinrich Haussler is pensive before the start of Paris-Roubaix (Getty Images)
Australian champion Heinrich Haussler is looking forward to his second phase of racing after a spring classics campaign that did not go to plan.
By
Sophie Smith

18 Apr 2015 - 7:59 AM  UPDATED 18 Apr 2015 - 8:00 AM

After years of nagging injury the 31 year old appeared reborn when he won gold at the January titles in Buninyong and identified the February Tour of Qatar and the cobble classics as major objectives.

Haussler finished eighth overall in Qatar and while visible at the front of proceeding European races ultimately suffered in the cold and fell short.  

“In Australia I felt really good and was hoping and thinking I’d come back to Europe and it would just continue going on like that,” he said.

“Normally in the really cold weather and bad conditions that’s where I kind thrive, that’s where I really get my best results and I feel good. I don’t know maybe spending so much time in Australia during the European winter wasn’t such a good thing for me. I’m not blaming the weather, but every single race from Paris-Nice right through up until before the Tour of Flanders was just terrible conditions, really cold, always raining. Normally I can handle that stuff but I just didn’t have anything.”

Haussler ended his cobble classic campaign at Paris-Roubaix last weekend finishing the notoriously difficult one-day race in 80th place.

“In Roubaix I was absolutely flying, I had excellent legs and then three (cobble) sectors after the Arenberg I got a flat tyre, had to finish that section on the flat tyre and then change wheels,” he said.

“I was just coming back to the group and then my derailleur snapped off and went into the wheel and then my frame broke. If s---t like that happens in Roubaix in the last 50-60K and you’ve got to wait a few minutes for a wheel or for a new bike it’s over.”

The first-time father to twin boys born this month returned to training almost immediately after Roubaix despite the adjustments of a change in life circumstance and season.

“Normally you finish Roubaix and you‘re, mentally, totally finished,” he said. "The classics are just pure stress and you do such a big block of racing.

“But I feel that I’m still on a good level. It’s hard during the classics, I’m not making excuses or blaming anyone but it really, for me, if I had a bit more luck things would have looked a lot different.”

The cobble classics remain an objective for the former Tour de France stage winner who is already toying with alternative training ideas ahead of the 2016 season.

Haussler points to the approach of Orica-GreenEDGE sprinter Michael Matthews who stayed in Europe during the off-season and substituted racing for training up until Paris-Nice where he made his season debut, winning a stage and the points classification before going on to finish third at Milan-San Remo.  

“I’ll probably mix it up a little bit different next year because I felt actually the best at nationals and at Tour Down Under, and I wasn’t racing before that,” said Haussler, who is based in Freiburg with his German partner and infant children also considered.   

“I’m not really going to have that chance again to be away from home for three or four months. There’s also another side to life, it’s not just all cycling." 

Haussler applauded the work of his IAM team on the whole despite being disappointed with his individual performances in the classics.

“We have Rik Verbrugghe, he has pretty much taken over as manager of the team and he is the main sports director,” he said. “He’s in a car during the classics, calling the shots and it’s worked out really good this year. We’re riding more as a team.”  

Haussler acknowledged it takes teams many years to build a core set of classics riders that can be competitive across the unique terrain in Belgium and northern France, as rival outfit Sky has most recently shown.

“I’d love to just concentrate totally on the one-day races but it’s also very difficult, and every year it’s getting harder and harder,” he said.

“There’s no s--t cyclists anymore. It’s not like three, four, five, six years ago where it was, ‘I want to take him, he’s my friend, I want him in the team,’ and, you know, guys get contracts because they know people, it’s not like that anymore,” he said.

“Everyone is getting more serious, training camps are starting earlier and the races are faster. You have to look at your training and look at different ways to mix it up just to try and get an extra one or two per cent out of yourself.”

Haussler will now turn his focus to next month’s Giro d’Italia where he is set to target stages and also work for Italian pure sprinter Matteo Pelucchi. 

SBS will broadcast every stage of the Giro d'Italia live.