Fans and pundits alike were perplexed to see Garmin-Cervélo’s Heinrich Haussler listed as a non-starter for Saturday’s fifth stage of the Tour of Oman. A double stage-winner in Qatar, Haussler would have been a candidate for the win in the final stage, and given his injury-riddled 2010 season, some (including myself) wondered if his knee pain had indeed returned just in time to ruin yet another spring for the talented young rider.
Then yesterday, Cyclingnews published a story in which Haussler describes his “perfect start” to the season. Apparently his withdrawal from Oman was a planned move, one that in hindsight, was probably a very good idea.
First of all, the decision allowed Haussler to get a head start on his next block of training, a two week period with Matt Wilson that he hopes will bring him to Paris-Nice fresh and ready to put the finishing touches on his form for Milan-San Remo. By leaving after Friday’s stage, Haussler was able to travel, rest, and start his first full week of training on Monday—if not the day before.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, his planned abandon prevented overuse. Haussler’s knee was his main hindrance last season, and knee pain doesn’t always go away too easily (just ask Matti Breschel). Worse still, knee problems have a funny way of reappearing—mainly due to over-exertion—long after they have been thought fixed. Haussler has two good weeks of racing in Qatar and Oman, some rest and solid training will likely yield bigger gains than the final two stages of Oman and the Belgian opening weekend would have produced.
Yes, it would have been nice to see Haussler—the runner-up in last year’s Omloop—take the line Saturday. But a win in either Milan-San Remo or the Tour of Flanders—or both (it’s possible)—will immediately erase any memories of his absence. Credit G-C’s management and Haussler for making the right choice.