Haussler was tired at the Tour of California in May where he estimated a majority of the Bahrain-Merida team fielded there was “filling gaps”, albeit it well with Garcia Cortina winning stage five.
The 35-year-old Haussler was due to take a break following Paris-Roubaix and a full cobbled classics campaign, but instead raced Brabantse Pijl, Fleche Wallonne, Eschborn-Frankfurt and then California as a substitute.
“Everything was a late call-up just because we’ve got so many guys injured, or so many guys sick,” he said.
Haussler joins a number of riders that have observed a difficulty posed by teams that are downsizing against a race calendar that has stayed the same, if not increased.
The UCI is set to implement changes in 2020 that will see the minimum quota of riders per WorldTour squad increased from 23 to 27.
“During the classics it was something we were talking about because the guys who aren’t on that WorldTour level, they don’t seem to get used as much because the WorldTour is so hard. There is points up for grabs and teams want to be good, so normally they always send their better or more experienced riders and they just get worn-out,” Haussler said.
“Then you’re doing hard intervals and hard training in between races – there is just no recovery any more. The season is getting longer and longer. It’s something I’ve already talked about to the team and hopefully next year, or the next years, it’s going to change a little bit.”
The Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana stage winner believes the scenario lends to performance concerns, affecting everything from individual morale to blood values, especially in one-day races that typically comprise the pinnacle of Haussler’s season.
“Your blood values get worse and worse and worse and you go down because you’re always tired, you’re not fresh. In the one-day races especially your muscles need to be fresh and full. It really has a big impact on your performance, also because the level is so high. If you’re missing one or two per cent you’re already at the back,” he said.
Haussler has not competed since the Tour of California. At that time, he didn’t have a set race program beyond May but hoped he could be excused from the June 9-16 Criterium du Dauphine given his season to date.
“Doing Dauphine with only 10 days of training for sure is going to be a DNF already after two stages,” he noted.
The classics specialist normally stays in Europe over the winter, but for the first time in four years returned to Australia to compete on home turf in January at the Bay Crits, national championships and Tour Down Under. He may pass on it all in 2020.
“I’ve already said next year I’m going to start my season later. I need to be fresher for the classics. If I can do that, if the team will let me do it, I don’t know. But I don’t think I’ll be doing Down Under next year just because it’s too early and the level is so high. As an Australian, I don’t want to go out there and say I’m just going to be here for training, just rock up three or four days before the race,” he said.
“I felt it also being not in Europe for the whole winter, which is normally my strength, the cold. I kind of suffered this year just because I was in Australia so long already before Down Under, and then we were in the Middle East, like in Bahrain, the UAE Tour, a lot in the warm. I reckon if the classics are cold then you also need to be training in the cold.”