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Already a stage winner in the Tour de France five years ago, Heinrich Haussler has said that he is psyched by the thoughts of the fifth stage of the race and the chance to race on the cobblestones.
Haussler took his Tour stage win in 2009 and was also seventh in Paris-Roubaix that year. He placed seventh and 11th in the last two bunch sprints in this year’s race and is clearly in solid form.
“I feel really good,” he told CyclingTips earlier this week. “I mean, this is the Tour de France. Everyone is here in bloody top form, 100 percent. It has been pretty dangerous, hard racing. I am kind of looking forward to the next two stages, 150 kilometres flat, maybe rest up a little bit for stage five. For me it is a very important stage.”
Today’s leg of the race is D-day for him, giving him a chance to chase what he feels could be the best opportunity for him in this year’s Tour. Although many riders are nervous about what lies ahead, Haussler sounds upbeat about what is on offer.
“Last year when the course was released, that was a stage I saw straight away. My eyes started to sparkle up,” he enthused. “It is just not every year that cobblestones from Flanders or Roubaix are in the Tour de France.
“It is going to make it very exiting. I think for the spectators at home watching on TV and everything, it is going to be really good to watch.”
Haussler is part of the IAM Cycling team, which received an invitation to the Tour. It is keen to impress and he sees it as having bigger ambitions and prospects than some of the other squads in a similar position.
“We are a pro conti team. We have got a wildcard, but we are not that typical pro conti team that just wants to be on TV and go in the breaks,” he said. “We actually want to have an impact on the race and we are here to win stages, or try to win stages. Of course it is not easy.
“Then of course [we have] Matthias Frank going for maybe a top ten in his first Tour de France. He has just come off the Tour de Suisse in second. We will try to get him up there as much as possible on GC, and definitely go for a stage win.”
Haussler’s bid for success today will be part of a two pronged attack. Sylvain Chavanel is also part of the team and has a strong Classic past, with victories in the Brabantse Pijl and Dwars Door Vlaanderen to his name. He was also a top ten finisher in Paris-Roubaix, and has won three Tour stages before.
“We have got me and Chava…we are not there to get second and third, we want to go for the stage win,” said Haussler. “We have a good two cards to play.
“But then again, it is going to be a different race. You can’t compare it to Paris-Roubaix. It is going to be just carnage, because you have got the GC guys up there. They don’t want to lose time. So you have got the SD’s [sport directors] telling the riders [to move up]. There is going to be stress like crazy, there is going to be crashes.”
Given his racing style and experience, he’s fine with that. “For me, I like that kind of racing, so it is going to be good. But maybe not so good for some of the GC guys, because I think for sure one or two or three GC guys are going to lose the Tour on the stage.”