Haas fell short of his overall ambitions at the event, struggling through consecutive days racing in soaring temperatures he said were in excess of 50C on the road.
The 28-year-old was a DNF at the ensuing Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, where he typically figures and resumed racing at the Tour of Oman yesterday, simply keen to get back on his bike after an interrupted training interim.
“I didn’t really get to do that for a while after Down Under because I was just absolutely broke. It was insane, I just totally broke my engine for a while there,” Haas said from the stage one start outside Nizwa Fort.
“I had a week where I was going from bed to the couch trying to do an hour and just couldn’t do it. It was like my whole body was just absolutely kaput from the heat stress. I had heat stroke on stage four and my body never worked again. It was really strange. Anytime I wanted to go hard, motivation-wise, I wanted to go but just couldn’t do it.
“It was good to get that out of the way.”
Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) finished with the bunch on stage one, which saw Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept) best Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) in a straightforward mass gallop.
The Australian placed 10th overall here last year, but, sitting with new Katusha-Alpecin teammates on camp chairs yesterday, laughed off sentiment the course again suited his strengths.
“I’ve said that about so many races,” Haas said. “I’ve been way too close, in too many races for too long.”
Katusha-Alpecin in Oman has a card to play with American Ian Boswell, who also joins the team this season following a four-year tenure with Sky.
“He’s finally off the Sky leash so we’re going to see what he can do up Green Mountain,” Haas said.
“It’s a race that really only comes down to one day for GC, so if you’re top three there you’re on the podium as long as we look after him. It’s a really good chance.”
Haas himself had a very pragmatic outlook on what is his third race with the team he is building toward the Ardennes Classics with.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself here,” he said.
“I’m really using it to learn how to race with even new guys again in the team. I’m here for two years so it’s really important that we invest some good energy early on in my contract, to really learn how they like to do things, how I like to do things and make it flow.
“This is a good race because, as you know, it’s a little bit more relaxed. The roads are nice, there’s not too much crazy road furniture so you can actually practice a lot of the things you need to before the biggest races come up.”