Heinrich Haussler grew up in Australia but, showing typical Aussie grit and determination, left for Germany - his Father’s homeland - at the age of 14 to pursue a career as a professional cyclist. His results this year are a reflection of his determined character and a change of team from Gerolsteiner to the newly formed Cervélo Test Team.
Back in February Haussler finished second overall in the windswept Tour of Qatar; he then took two stage wins in the Tour of Algarve (in Portugal); a stage win in Paris Nice, a fine second place in Milan-San-Remo (losing the win by centimetres from sprint ace Mark Cavendish), second in the Tour of Flanders and took a fantastic solo win at the 13th stage of the Tour de France from Vittel to Colmar through the rain-soaked Vosges Mountains, having dropped Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) with around 40 kilometres to go.
With much of August and September still left to race Haussler acknowledges that he’s had a pretty amazing season. “It’s been perfect already. I always knew that I had it in me to be able to achieve what I’ve done this year; I never doubted myself and always believed that I could mix it with the pros. I just needed a change; when I was with Gerolsteiner maybe I wasn’t training properly or perhaps taking it as seriously as I have this year.”
Haussler, who still has a distinctive Australian accent even though he left for Germany as a teenager, is quick to point out the benefits that his Cervélo Test Team has made to his season. “All the little parts of the organisation come into play and can give you just a percentage or two more of help. The bikes we have are absolutely amazing, especially on the cobblestones. Everyone on the team gets on with each other and automatically, if you have good team mates around you with guys that are always having a laugh and are mixing well together, you ride well.”
When asked what his plans are for the rest of the season, Haussler, dubbed the ‘Racing Kangaroo’, reveals that he is going to rest a bit more this week as he has a few more criteriums coming up. “I’ve been doing the post-Tour crits; it’s been full-on stress racing every night with a lot of travelling in between so I’m just happy to get home, lay back and take it easy.”
“I’m then going to concentrate on the Grand Prix de Plouay and Paris-Tours; I love the one-day races, especially the Classics. I’ve also got the Tour of Missouri in the US and the Circuit Franco-Belge stage race, but the two one-day races are my main targets for the end of the season”.
Haussler’s current race schedule does not include the Tour of Lombardy, which is the final one-day Classic of the year. “My season already feels like a long one and I already want to start focusing on next year’s Spring Classics - the Tour of Flanders is my number one aim.”
“I trained like a maniac last year in the lead-up to this year’s Classics and to do all of them is pretty much full-on. You then need a rest to be able to get ready for the Tour (de France). It’s a lot of slow stress on your body, physically and mentally, so I just want to take it a bit easier now so that I’m really fresh and can train hard in the winter,” the likeable rider explained. Clearly, with his growing reputation, focus and self-belief, Haussler will be one of the bookies’ favourites to win a Spring Classic next year.