• Heinrich Haussler in action at the Tour of Flanders. (Getty)Source: Getty
Heinrich Haussler has emerged from career-threatening injury grateful for a consequent overhaul that could see him at the pointy end of Paris-Roubaix.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
7 Apr 2018 - 4:56 PM  UPDATED 7 Apr 2018 - 5:00 PM

Haussler finished the Tour of Flanders 25th and in tears last weekend, an indication of the measure he is holding himself to ahead of the 257km test Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) will enter as defending champion.

“This Sunday, if I come through without any flat tyres, crashes, bad luck I might be right, right, right up the front,” Haussler told Cycling Central.

The 34-year-old will captain Bahrain-Merida after what he considered a poor team showing at Flanders where he dug deep to chase back from two crashes and assist teammates Vincenzo Nibali and Sonny Colbrelli in the finale.

“I was really upset after the race. I sound like a pussy but I started crying because I was so upset. I had awesome legs and the result was just terrible,” Haussler said.

“… The call came from the directors to work with Nibali and Sonny, so I helped them with positioning. I left everything out on the road to try and get a good result for Sonny but we ended up being 23rd, 24th and 25th, which was actually not very good.”

Haussler has had a consistent spring campaign that belies a knee injury-ravaged 2017 season that comprised just 12 race days, and a delayed start to this year through a broken collarbone.

The collective experience has seen the Australian adopt a much more regimented lifestyle and professional approach that may pay great dividends.

“I’m happy it happened because it’s woken me up,” he said. “I want to get the best out of my body, know I’ve given my best and have no regrets.”

Haussler will mark a career 12th start at the race he finished sixth at in 2016.

With his experience comes a self-imposed and ruthless standard of racing that will dictate his showing as much as the potentially inclement weather.

“For me, it’s not about getting to the finish,” he said. “It might sound arrogant but if you’re caught up in crashes, or have a flat tyre, still have 100km to go and you’re back in the fifth group, your race is over.

“You do a good result, or it’s not worth the ride of shame to the velodrome.”

Paris-Roubaix shapshot: Quick-Step Floors versus everyone?
The course of the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix will stretch for 257 km and feature no fewer than 29 cobblestone sectors totalling 54.5 km. The race will be streaming live right here at Cycling Central and via the SBSOnDemand apps on Sunday 8 April from 6:45pm AEST and 9:30pm AEST on SBS Viceland.

Haussler is on a single-season deal with Bahrain-Merida and Roubaix is the pinnacle of his season with the outfit.

“I’m mentally fresher than the others too,” he continued. “I’ve noticed that in races I seem to be willing to fight more or position myself better before climbs.

“It’s the most amazing race on the calendar. Every year when we do the recon it’s like, ‘How are we going to race on this?’ It’s so dangerous and so hard.”

The Tour de France stage winner identified three out of 29 pave sectors he believes are critical to final selections in the Monument where positioning is vital.

“That’s probably going to be my biggest disadvantage because I know I’m probably going to be by myself and racing Quick-Step, who can so easily put it in the gutter,” Haussler said.

“In Roubaix, every section you have to be sure you’re always in the top 25 in case something happens.

“There are certain points where you always have to be in the front. The Arenberg for sure, if you can you go in there in the top there. Mons-en-Pevele is also another section you have to be in the top five and Carrefour is the last important part. By the time you get there though the groups aren’t that big and there’s not that much fighting, you stay where you are or what you’re capable of.”

Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) will be another to watch at the race along with world champion Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe).

“I haven’t done one ride longer than two to three hours; the rest have been coffee rides because my legs are good. I just need to stay fresh and race,” Haussler said.

“I feel good, strong and I’m super confident.”