Australian champion Heinrich Haussler believes riders may have "underestimated" how hard the first Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race will be.
Australian road race champion Heinrich Haussler has predicted the wind will surprise "a lot" of cyclists at the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday.
The one-day classic - Australia's newest event on the UCI calendar - will start and finish in the Victorian city of Geelong with a route of 174 kilometres taking in Bells Beach and Torquay on the Bellarine Peninsula.
IAM Cycling's Haussler, who won Australia's national title on January 11, spent time training around Geelong in December and is well aware of the difficulty of the conditions.
"I think a lot of riders have probably underestimated how difficult this race could be. It could be gutter action from kilometre zero," Haussler told Cycling Australia's website on Friday, explaining the riders could be pushed to the side of the road by the winds.
"That is going to make the race that much harder, the climbs on the laps are pretty solid, so it is going to be a hard race."
Haussler, who will be supported by five team-mates, is confident IAM Cycling are ready.
"We are all so familiar with the strong winds, and that could come into play on Sunday," he said.
The UCI - cycling's global governing body - has classified the race as a category one event, meaning greater prize money and up to 70 per cent of the teams involved can come from the World Tour.
The race will be Cadel Evans' final competitive appearance in professional cycling.
The 2011 Tour de France champion is based on the Bellarine Peninsula and has helped set up the race as Australia's answer to the one-day classics that Belgium is famous for.
Haussler has a good classics pedigree having finished second in the 2009 Milan-San Remo, seventh in the Paris-Roubaix of the same year and sixth in the 2013 Tour of Flanders.
"I'm glad I am at a level again where I can actually do something in the race, attack and have that sensation in the legs on the climbs where you actually feel good and be up there in the sprints," he said.
"I am almost at the same level as 2009."