"It was very hard at the beginning. The new language, the weather and all that. But I really wanted...
At 22-years of age, Heinrich Haussler's path to pro cycling has been a difficult one. The Team Gerolsteiner rider left his native Australia and moved to Germany to pursue a cycling career - not an easy decision to make for a 14-year-old. The Australian-born German speaks to Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer.
"It was very hard at the beginning. The new language, the weather and all that. But I really wanted to do it!" explained Haussler. "Australia doesn't have the structures that Germany has, and my father said, 'If you want to be a pro, you'll have to try it in Germany'."
He gave it a shot, and it's worked. "Heini" signed a two-year neo contract with Team Gerolsteiner for 2005 and 2006 - with more than satisfactory results. In '05 he rode seven Classics, finishing all but one of them, taking seventh place in the Meisterschaft von ZÃ¼rich and was named in the German World Championship squad as a substitute. Haussler was also the only German to win a stage in a Grand Tour when he took victory on Stage 19 of the Vuelta a EspaÃ±a.
So the youngster was expecting a repeat of the results in 2006, and the year started out with lots of promise. He won the first and last stages of the Vuelta a Murcia and took a stage victory in the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, where he helped teammate Rene Haselbacher take the overall win.
But thereafter things took a wrong turn. Haussler was diagnosed in June with a viral infection that kept him out of action nearly the whole summer. "Some of the symptoms were very similar to mononucleosis - my immune system wasn't working right and I just felt weak and drained all the time. I didn't train at all for eight weeks, then trained for two weeks at half power. Then after only three weeks of full training, I rode the Vuelta."
Click here to read the full feature.