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Heinrich Haussler

Kristof Goddaert (IAM Cycling)

Goodbye Kristof

By:
Heinrich Haussler
Published:
February 27, 2014, 10:40 GMT,
Updated:
February 27, 2014, 9:41 GMT

Paying respect to my friend

Today is Kristof Goddaert’s funeral and as you read this Kristof’s friends, family and teammates will be paying their final respects to a dear friend of mine, who at just 27, tragically died last week while training.

I’ve never had to go to a funeral in my life. I don’t know what could or can be said at this moment because I’ve never lost anyone close to me before but I want to be there to say goodbye. This whole last week still doesn’t feel real, though, and part of me still holds out hope that I’m going to turn up at Het Volk this weekend and he’s going to be there, in my room, just as he has been every time we’ve been at races together.

The last time I saw Kristof was at the Tour of Qatar. We’d finished the race and gone out for a dinner with the team. We’d even managed to squeeze in a couple of drinks together – a brief respite before it was back to work. Then at the Tour of Oman, a race Kristof skipped, I heard the news about his accident.

I was in my room and I was suddenly being bombarded with text messages asking me if knew about his accident. I didn’t know what was going on, I’d not heard or read anything about it but straight away I tried to ring him. There was no answer. So I tried to text him. No reply either. I saw that he’d not been online for a number of hours and then I remember racing down the hall and asking another rider if knew what was going on. No one knew, not until our sports director came in and broke the news. I remember sitting there listening, full of fear and sadness, and just hoping he’d text back. That his name would flash up on my phone and he’d be there to say he was okay and that the news had been wrong.

Before I came to the IAM team I didn’t really know Kristof. I knew a few things, like how energetic he was in the peloton and how much he liked to joke around with his teammates but that was about it. I think that’s how a lot of guys knew him and he’d be a rider who would always dive into corners, he’d always race full gas but he was also a great worker.

We started to get to know each other last year, when we roomed together at the Tour of Qatar. Both on a new team, we watched out for each other and instantly got on well together. He became to be one of my true mates and we’d start talking and hanging out away from races as well. But I think everyone was pretty close with him at IAM, and that was just down to his personality. He had this way of cheering you up even if you were in a bad mood or feeling down. Whether it was his jokes around the dinner table or his dedication to training hard, he was just always full of energy, always happy and always willing to help a teammate.

To race with he was excellent too. He’d be there to protect me in the classics, keep me safe, keep me out of the wind and he was always riding for the good of the team. I can remember it fondly now but he was always full gas, he could never go easy. He was a born racer.

The days since his death have been rough for everyone who knew him, and my thoughts and true felt condolences go out to his closest friends and family. Today is all about saying goodbye, an opportunity we never really had. I’m sure there will be a huge amount of support today, not just from our team but a number of squads and riders. The Belgian cycling community will come together and pay their respects.

And I know it might sound weird, but in some way I still think Kristof will be with us in the peloton. I didn’t believe in any of that before but I have that feeling that he’s still going to be around, on the front, diving into those corners and joking in the pack. We won't forget you.

Rest in peace, Kristof.

 

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No distractions ahead of Milan-San Remo

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 16, 2012, 23:18 GMT,
Updated:
March 16, 2012, 23:20 GMT

Haussler keeping his eye on the prize

No distractions for me ahead of Milan-San Remo

I've just checked into the team hotel in Milan and I'm about to have dinner with the guys. It's hard for me to put into words how I'm feeling right now but it's a mix of confidence, excitement and if I'm honest, trepidation.

Milan-San Remo, the first Classic and Monument of the season is a race that's really dear to my heart and one that I desperately want to win. As soon as I got home from Paris-Nice last week I started concentrating 100 per cent towards Saturday's race. It meant taking care of my body, sleeping right, training right, eating right and not having any distractions. Even my poor girlfriend had to take a back seat over the last few days because for me, Milan-San Remo, as I said, is just a special race that means so much to me.

In the last few days I've watched videos of all the different outcomes and finishes we've seen over the years. From bunch sprints, to late attacks, moves on the Poggio to even suicide early breaks. This race has seen it all but I'm confident that I can feature in it and put in a strong performance. That's easy to say, I know, but I'm feeling strong right now and even though I'm not going to say I'm as strong as I was in 2009, my form is very good.

The only thing I'm worried out is my position on Saturday, both on the climbs and in the sprint finish – should the race end that way. I need my team to help me and to make sure I'm not boxed in but I'm really confident.

A lot of people are talking about this coming down to a sprint and there's a good chance of that happening but it's worth remember that it's a very different beast to a typical bunch gallop in a stage race. The main feature is the sheer distance. This isn't 190kms it's 290 and once you start ticking over the 200 mark guys really start to die and lose their power, but the longer the race the better I used to feel. That used to be my thing. Obviously in the last few years I've not had it in the Classics but this time around I've had the racing, I got through the Vuelta last year and it's all helped.

I'm going to have to watch out for a number of riders too. I'm not that worried about Cav. The race is going to be that hard, you just have to look how Liquigas rode in San Remo, where they were on fire, and there are other teams that won't want it to be a sprint so they'll make it hard. On the other hand he's won the race, so it's not like he can't do it, but I'm more worried about riders other than him.

If I had to pick favourites it would be Boonen, Cancellara and Sagan. But it all depends on how the race goes.

Tyler and I are both here and we both want to have a good race.

And post-race the new/old favourite will be my girlfriend again.

See you in San Remo.

 

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) is aiming to transfer his Qatar form to Europe.

Going to Belgium to win

By:
Heinrich Haussler
Published:
February 23, 2012, 19:34 GMT,
Updated:
February 23, 2012, 19:40 GMT

Haussler looking for a birthdate treat at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

I really should get packing. My flight from my home in Germany is in a few hours and there’s a lot to do. And this is going to be a big weekend for me and the boys at Garmin-Barracuda. It’s the start of the Belgium road season with Omloop on Saturday and Kuurne on Sunday. I’ll be racing Omloop and I’m really looking forward to it.

First off I’m going there to win. And secondly it’s my birthday so there’s a real incentive to head to the race and kick some arse. I’ve gone well there in the past. In 2009 I was in a late break that was just caught and in 2010 I was in good form and made the podium. That’s the kind of form and performance I want to show this weekend.

I face a lot of questions about whether I can return to that level of form, the form that I was in during the 2009 season, and especially the Classics.

It’s hard to say. What happened in 2009, especially with the team at the time, Cervelo, was really special. Sometimes I watch it on TV or Youtube and they way we rode, we had something really special going on.

That was once I a lifetime form for me personally too. When I think about how I was racing back then, sometimes I was mucking around but if I had that form again I would just wait and attack in the right moment. If I had that form again it would be amazing but it’s something I’m working towards, although I know it’s going to be a difficult.

Despite my optimism for the weekend I’ve had a rough couple of weeks with illness. I went to Australia for nationals and the Tour Down Under and I got sick when I was back. Then a few weeks ago we rode recon over the new Flanders route and I picked up another cold. I don’t normally get sick but I think it’s from shifting from the warmth of Australia to the cold snap here.

I’m glad I went to Australia though. As an Australian hoping to compete at the London Games this summer I had to take part in the nationals back home. There was also a shadow squad for the Games so I had a few fittings for clothing and there was a bit of paperwork to fill out. All worth it though.

Back to my form, like I said, I’m heading into the weekend wanting to win on Saturday. My form isn’t at its peak but Omloop can be a weird race. It can end in a sprint and looking at the weather I think there’s a good chance of that happening again. I don’t necessarily want that to happen and if I’m feeling strong I’ll attack.

A lot will probably depend on the condition of some of the big guns like Boonen and Gilbert because if they want to rip it apart on the hills they can put a lot of rider under pressure.

Either way, I’d better stop looking at Youtube clips, get packing and get myself to Gent. I’ve got a race to win and birthday to celebrate.

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) beat Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) at the intermediate sprint, but the Australian would be relegated after the stage finished.

Vuelta: Hardest Grand Tour I've ever done

By:
Heinrich Haussler
Published:
September 02, 2011, 20:15 BST,
Updated:
September 02, 2011, 21:15 BST

Rest days, sore legs and brutal climbing

You have to be kidding me. This is without doubt the hardest three-week race I’ve ever done. It’s just crazy from start to finish.

Today we had 4,500 meters of climbing and it was full on the whole day because the break didn’t go until 50km into the stage. Luckily I had pretty good legs but this race is just too hard. If I’d had a bad day today I would be writing this blog from 35,000 ft on a flight home, instead of from my hotel room.

Since the rest day, this is the first day I’ve felt okay. After ten days of racing, followed by a day off your body just shuts down and that’s what happened to me. I broke that rhythm and I paid for it with two very tough days.

It’s my own fault though. On the rest day we just went 20 minutes up the road, sat in a café for two and a half hours and then cycled back.

That was a mistake and I certainly wont be repeating it in a few days time on the next rest day. On rest day riders typically wake up a bit later than normal and train for maybe between two to four hours. That way their bodies simulate the racing experience and they keep things ticking over. You get the odd exception of course. Some riders don’t even leave their rooms on rest days, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.

The day after the rest day I was dropped after 2km and was ready to pack it all in. It’s strange how many things you can go through in a stage race, the emotions, the feelings, the sensations, it’s a total roller coaster.

But seriously, this race has been incredibly hard, too hard in fact. I remember riding this race back in 2005 and people where here training for the Worlds and there would be nine or ten sprint stages up for grabs. Maybe one or two guys would go up the road and you’d catch them before the finish. Now everyone wants to be in the break and the starts are uphill. Things are going in the wrong direction.

At the end of the day it’s the big names in the sport that have to say something, but no one will. This is by far the hardest three week stage race I’ve done in my life and just don’t get me started on the ridiculous transfers.

I’m still going to make it to Madrid, that’s for sure. I had thought about pulling out because there are no easy stages coming up and I need to think about the Worlds and even though there are a couple of weeks between the Vuelta and the Worlds, this race has been so tough.

As for the Worlds the Australian in the best form at the moment is Stuey [O’Grady]. You can see when he’s pulling on the front and when he’s been in a break. It all depends on the selectors and what they want to do for the race. Whatever happens though, Stuey will be a great captain for the team. He’s got the experience, he knows how to lead and how to read a race perfectly. He’s got the legs to be there at the end too.

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) finished in 32nd place, 28 seconds behind Sagan.

Toasting Dan Martin's Vuelta stage win

By:
Heinrich Haussler
Published:
August 29, 2011, 9:13 BST,
Updated:
August 29, 2011, 10:50 BST

Onwards to Madrid

What a difference a stage makes, or a final climb for that matter. The last few days had been pretty tough for me and the Garmin-Cevelo boys but after Dan’s incredible ride and stage win yesterday we’re all feeling a lot better and spirits are much higher. Speaking of spirits I’m just back from a dinner toast where we celebrated Dan’s win with a glass – just one – of champagne.

But before today we’d been in the wars and super unlucky, losing both Tyler and Murilo in crashes. They were big losses for us as a team but like at the Tour we want to show that the team can win in a number of scenarios and Dan proved that.

After Tyler’s crash he looked pretty bad and we knew straight away that he needed to go to hospital. The x-rays didn’t show anything and then he had another check-up in the morning. He started the next day but the effects of the crash and the fast start the next day made it just too tough.

Then we lost Murilo. He went down into the barrier. He was talking a corner and came down, breaking a bone in his hand. It’s a sad feeling losing a teammate in a grand tour but these things happen in bike racing. It’s a tough sport and although Ty and Murilo are both down they’re certainly not out and I know they’ll make excellent recoveries.

The next day I got myself into the break. That was a tough day but it was really about testing the legs and going hard and going deep in preparation for the Worlds.

And then our race really got a shot in the arm with that win from Dan Martin. On the bus before the start he said he was feeling good and it was a climb that suited him. It meant that our job was to keep him out of the wind and keep him out of trouble. The wind has been crazy here so it meant a lot of work. We kept him fed and watered and then dropped him off at the foot of the climb in the best position possible.

From there it was all up to him and he carried out the perfect ride.

We’ve raced nearly 10 stages now and off the top of my head that’s the longest block of racing I’ve had all season. The first week I thought that my form wasn’t great. Now I think that was just the heat, and the more we head north, the more the temperature has started to drop and I’ve started to feel better. It’s still really hard racing though and I’m hanging in there and saving as much energy as I can and trying to make it to the finish. Bring on Madrid!
 

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo)

Dealing with the heat

By:
Heinrich Haussler
Published:
August 22, 2011, 19:49 BST,
Updated:
August 23, 2011, 11:33 BST

Vuelta off to a simmering start

Greetings Cyclingnews readers,

I'm in hot, hot Spain right now having completed the opening stages of the Vuelta. It's my first Grand Tour in a few years, and I'm really excited to be here and racing for Garmin-Cervelo.

So far the biggest factor has been the heat. It's just unrelenting and punishing. Honestly, I've not raced in anything like this as far back as I can remember. Perhaps the temperature isn't that high, some of the local Spanish riders don't seem to mind, but the fact is that most of Europe hasn't had hot summer. Cast your mind back to the Tour de France. It was raining and raining nearly every day and it was like that for me too in training. So to come here and race in an oven has been tough to deal with.

I think I went through 20 bottles during stage 2. I had one nature break during the stage so it just shows you what we’re going through. I was going through bottles every 5km so by the time I’d finished my drinks it was time to head back to the car and pick up more for me and the other guys.

On a physical level the heat means that you really have to gauge your strength and timing. If you go deep just once then you're going to pay for and chances are you're not going to recover.

On stage 2, the plan was to work for Tyler and we did a pretty good job. The finish was tricky and CJ had a great sprint on him but I'm sure that Tyler and myself will have a few more chances to shine in the sprints before the race is over. We were a little bit disappointed with our ride in the TTT on the first day. I think we could have done a little bit better in the TTT even though we don't have the same team here as we did at the Tour, where we were stacked with time trialists.

Still there's a long way to go and we've got a number of aims for the race, including the overall and stage wins.

I'm sharing a room with Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren and it's getting late here in the evening. I think he'd like me to turn off the lap top, the lights and go to sleep.

Thanks for reading and wish me luck

Heinrich

Author
Heinrich Haussler

Heinrich Haussler, now registered as an Australian, is back to take on the spring Classics with IAM Cycling.