The 29-year-old appears to have convincingly bounced back from a “problem” he has alluded to but politely declined to divulge with media recently.
WorldTour teams have begun to announce their respective squads for the July 7 – 29 international spectacle, with Haas hopeful of making a return for the first time since 2015.
“I’d like to go to the Tour. It’ll be a cool outcome from working hard to come back again. But the Tour squad is super hard to make and I don’t want to go if I’m not 100 per cent,” he said.
Haas’s apparent setback has contributed to a rollercoaster debut with new team Katusha-Alpecin in which he has made an impression as well as struggled under the radar.
The Australian suffered prolonged heat stress at the Tour Down Under in January but bounced back to mark what was for him an emotional stage victory over Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) at the Tour of Oman where he also claimed the points classification on the final day.
The Ardennes Classics were meant to be his first major target of the season. However, Haas was sidelined from competition for about a month following Milan-San Remo and before Amstel Gold, which he started not to win but effectively build muscle memory and then call it quits before the mid-point of the race.
“I wanted to go to Amstel just to see the first 100km again because every year the first bit, it’s a maze and you remember it more and more. I went with no ambition of being in the final because there was nothing there,” he said.
Haas reappeared another month later at the Amgen Tour of California where his “choked” engine sputtered back into drive. There he predicted an “upward trajectory” with a view toward the Tour de Suisse, a forecast that proved accurate with the puncheur finishing on the podium in two stages and placing second behind Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport) on the mountains classification.
“I’ve been so run down,” said Haas in California. “The day after San Remo something just clicked in my body. It actually took quite a long time to diagnose what the problem was and then by that time I’d dug the whole even deeper. I skipped the whole Ardennes, which sucked. I was really taking it day-by-day. It’s nice that the body is working again and wants to push.”
Asked directly what the issue was, Haas was reserved.
“It’s not anyone’s business,” he said after a brief hesitation. “To be honest, I don’t say it enough but I really love racing my bike. I was reminded of it every time I sat at home on my arse trying to recover. I was going out for one or two hours training and felt so crap for so long. The speed is what I miss and it’s so nice to be back with that adrenaline and remember why I actually train.”
Prolific German sprinter Marcel Kittel, 30, as well as general classification hopeful Ilnur Zakarin, 28, are set to headline the Katusha-Alpecin Tour team with the other six spaces yet to be confirmed. Haas has worked alongside the former throughout the season and at training camps.
Watch the Tour de France with SBS from 7 -29 July. Broadcast and streaming details TBC.