Haas believes he is closing the gap to major classics specialist rivals following a strong all round showing at the Tour of Oman.
The 28-year-old rode into the green jersey of points leader on the sixth and final stage yesterday, which Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) won, stealing it from Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
Haas had a lot to smile about as he spoke by the Matrah Corniche seaside, reflecting on a week where he outsprinted Van Avermaet to win stage two and was especially convincing on the race title defining Green Mountain climb.
“I worked on a lot of things during the off-season and did a lot of skills camps as well. I know I’m seven years pro but never too big to admit where there is a little gap in I guess competence between me and the best,” said Haas.
“I think I’ve closed a gap as well, in the last corners, in sprints and on crazy downhills so again you save energy there. If I save energy, with the ability to stay cool in those finals maybe I can win a big race.
“Winning stage two was already a pat on the back to say it’s coming along, but it’s still a long way to winning from Amstel.”
The Ardennes Classics are a major target for Haas, who in Oman validated his decision to transfer to Katusha-Alpecin from Dimension Data this season.
The versatile sprinter arrived in Muscat down on confidence after a lacklustre Australian summer racing block in which he suffered heatstroke, though his spirit was quickly restored.
“I’ve really been focusing on time trialing and it’s not for winning time trials, it’s actually for the finals of races. So far, I’ve been feeling a big gear difference in how I’m riding and when you feel comfortable with the power you make better decisions too,” he said.
Haas said his mission is now to manage rather than build form in the lead-up to the Ardennes.
“I don’t think I get fitter than this,” he said. “It’s actually now about staying cool and healthy. That’s really what it comes down to.”
You can catch Haas in action LIVE at Amstel Gold (Sun 15 April) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Sun 22 April) on SBS. (Times/channel TBA)