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Heinrich Haussler has admitted he needed to ‘waste’ a few years of his early career to learn what it takes to be a 100 percent dedicated rider.
The Australian-born German emerged as one of the best classics riders of his generation in 2009, finishing second at Milan-San Remo and second at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Yet he says those results came in his first season as ‘serious’ professional.
“You have to make mistakes to learn how to be become 100 percent professional,” Haussler said during an intimate interview at the Cervelo Test Team training camp in Portugal.
“During my time with Gerolsteiner I wasn’t so serious, and was doing other stuff like drinking and partying," he admitted. "I started thinking stupid, spending my money on shit. I was thinking I was it. That’s the reason why in 2006 or 2007 I had glandular fever, because in the winter I was drinking like crazy and turning up to training drunk.
“It was really stupid and I maybe I threw four or five years of my career out of the window, but I had to go through it to learn how to respect my body and learn how to live like a professional. Because if you want to be good at this level, you’ve got to be 100 percent otherwise you’ve no chance.”
The desire to ride alongside Thor Hushovd and Carlos Sastre at the Cervélo Test Team made Haussler become more focused and totally dedicated to cycling.
“You don’t want to disappoint guys like those and I had to push really hard to get into this team,” he said. “It made me realise I didn’t want to stay a dodgy rider. I knew I had it in me and wanted to show them that I can ride. I can’t do this for ten years. No way. But as long as I haven’t reached my goals I’m going to stay serious.”
"Living like Cadel"
Haussler claimed he has been living like a monk during the winter. He looked fit and lean at the Cervélo Test Team training camp and is totally focused on winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the world championships in Australia this year.
“I’ve been really serious this winter and I’m definitely a lot strong this year. I said to a mate that now I’m living like Cadel Evans…. I mean that in a good way because he’s 100 percent serious.”
“My two goals this year are Flanders and the world championships. Flanders and Paris-Roubaix make my heart beat faster. Racing in Belgium is special. It’s not like racing in Germany. The fans go crazy. Last year me and Andreas Klier were first and second on the Molenberg climb. The people were going crazy and screaming at us. I had goose bumps all over me and to win there would be the highlight of my career.”
Haussler wants to win the world title in Melbourne as an Australian but is still undecided as to swapping his German passport for an Australian one.
“I just feel more Australian and if I have the chance I want to represent Australia,” he said.
“But it’s not an easy decision because the UCI says that I have to give back my German passport. But I’ve got a German girlfriend, I plan on living in Germany at least for the next ten years. My Dad’s also German and so it’s not an easy decision to give back my German passport or citizenship just for a world championship.
“I have to sit down with my family and make a decision. I’m going to decide after the classics because before I’m never at home and too focused on the classics.”