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Crash brings Haas down

Date

David Polkinghorne

Nathan Haas.

Nathan Haas. Photo: Rob Gunstone

Nathan Haas is a week behind in preparing for his Herald Sun Tour defence after an ''embarrassing'' crash in Civic.

But the hiccup will not stop him from riding in the tour in Victoria or in his first grand tour, either the Giro d'Italia or Vuelta a Espana, in 2013

The Canberran recently returned from a training camp in Tucson, Arizona, held with his entire Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda squad.

The 23-year-old met the team's managers, who revealed their plans for him - they want him to ride in one of the big European races.

While it will not be the Tour de France - they still think his body needs more than one professional season to ready itself for the rigours of the world's toughest race - it will be one of the other big two.

Haas hopes it will be the Giro.

''My season's going to be focused around doing one of those [grand tour races] - it's either going to be the Giro or the Vuelta,'' he told The Canberra Times on Friday.

''I'm hoping it's going to be the Giro. The team won it this year with Ryder [Hesjedal] and I'd really like to be there and see if we can defend it.''

While Haas won the last Herald Sun Tour, he is not overly confident he will score back-to-back victories - he won it in October 2011 when he was with the Genesys Wealth Advisers team.

His focus is on being at his peak in April or May - the Australian season comes too early in the year for him to be at his best.

Which means winning the Sun Tour and Australian road cycling nationals are not realistic goals - although if his body can cope and he is the best placed in his team, then he'll certainly try.

Haas will ride with an Australian team in the Sun Tour, before joining his Australian Garmin teammates for the nationals.

Then more of the Garmin squad will arrive for South Australia's Tour Down Under in late January - the first race of the professional year.

He does not expect the minor hip injury he sustained before Christmas will pose problems.

''Don't need to go into details on the [crash], it was borderline embarrassing, but it was low speed, low impact. It's not bad, but I injured my hip a little bit.

''It's come good now and I'm back on the bike. It's not something you want to happen at any point of the year, but if it's going to happen, early season is probably the best.''

He is excited about teaming with Australia's top cyclists for the Victorian tour. Simon Gerrans, Stuart O'Grady and Matthew Goss will all be part of the team for which Haas expects to ride.

He will then be working as part of the lead-out train for top Garmin sprinters Tyler Farrar and Robbie Hunter in the Tour Down Under.

''We've got a good sprinting team, we also have a couple of good guys for GC [general classification] as well,'' Haas said. ''We certainly don't have to take any responsibility and ride the front on any days, so we can just take advantage of other people's confidence.''

He will continue to train in Canberra before leaving for Melbourne on Wednesday.

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