Stage 5 is one that’s been long anticipated since the route was announced last October. For some, the 15 sectors of cobbles could destroy hopes of a good GC placing or even finishing the Tour. For others who relish these conditions, disappointment ensued for the organiser’s decision to remove sectors 5 and 7 due to the wet and dangerous conditions.
Heinrich Haussler is one of those riders who was looking forward to the rough roads of Belgium and Northern France and thrives in the wet conditions. We spoke with Haussler before the race to get his reaction to the sectors being removed.
Haussler said to CyclingTips before the race, “I love these conditions and I’m bloody pissed off that they took seven and five [sectors] out, but that’s the way it is.
“Since this stage has been released I’ve been looking forward to it and the weather conditions have come into my favour too and then they take two sectors out. It’s like taking two bloody climbs out for the hill climbers.
“I’ve been looking at the weather report for the past week so I knew it was going to be this type of conditions.”
Haussler came in 7th in Paris-Roubaix in 2009 and won stage 13 in 2009 of the Tour de France when he was racing with the Cervelo Test Team on a solo breakaway in similar rainy conditions.
Haussler missed the 2010 edition of the Tour de France where the cobbles were last used, but he’s one of the majority of the peloton who have never raced Paris-Roubaix in these wet conditions. The last time it rained at Paris-Roubaix was 2002 and there are only four riders in this year’s Tour de France peloton who experienced that edition (Jens Voigt, Matthew Hayman, Thomas Voeckler, and Samuel Dumoulin, none of whom finished. HT to Inrng for this via twitter).
“I’ve never done a wet Roubaix, it’s been something I’ve always wanted to do. Of course it’s dangerous but that’s the way cycling is. The first couple of stages [in Yorkshire] might have been even more dangerous. WTF, why should they take out those two sections [sectors 5 and 7]? That’s racing. With what we have to put up with and go through, this is nothing.”
In terms of Haussler’s role for this stage, he said, “Me and Chav [Sylvain Chavanel] will be free and the rest of the team will look after Mathais Fraank.”
It wasn’t only Haussler and some of the other Classics riders who were disappointed at the last minute course changes. Sever restrictions were put on photographers and access to the course, so we might not get to be spoiled with images that we’re used to after the race.