"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 Zürich 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 España.
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."
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