Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) will line up at the Vuelta a España later this month with the dual aims of wining a stage and building his form for 2012. It has been a difficult couple of years for the 27-year-old Australian. In 2009 he finished second in Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, before winning a stage in the Tour de France. He seemed destined for greatness but a run of injuries and crashes wrecked his 2010 season and this year he has struggled to regain full fitness.
However, he now believes that the bad times are behind him and riding pain-free and in-form he will head to the Vuelta ready to make his mark. Notably it will be his first Grand Tour ride since the Tour in 2009.
“I’ll do the Vuelta because I need it for my legs,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve not done a three week Tour for two years. It’s not just about the Worlds training, though, it’s also for next year as well.
“Even in Poland I started to feel like things were going in order again with my legs and the muscles and ligaments. It was all smooth. There are no little problems that need to be fixed and I’m starting to feel more comfortable on the bike so I’m really looking forward to coming out of the Vuelta with some racing in my legs.”
Garmin-Cervelo heads to Spain with a number of options. Daniel Martin and Christophe Le Mevel will lead the charge on GC, while Haussler and Tyler Farrar will compete in the sprints.
“For me it won't be about the pure sprints like with Cavendish, Greipel and Kittel but maybe there are stages that are a little bit harder,” he said.
One rider that wont be lining up for Garmin-Cervelo at the Vuelta is world champion Thor Hushovd. The Norwegian was controversially left off the Vuelta squad despite wanting to use the event as a warm-up before next month’s Worlds. Haussler and Hushovd have been teammates for the last three years and while Haussler wouldn’t be drawn out on the exclusion of Hushovd he did admit that he was sorry to see Hushovd leave the team at the end of the season.
“I can’t really comment on that because it’s the team’s decision. For me, this entire year, the plan was to do the Vuelta and for me that’s what’s important. There’s not much else I can say.
“I’ve been with Thor for the last three years and I’ve never had a problem with him. We’ve been working well together and he’s a bloody good rider and you can see that at the Tour. You just had to take your hat off to him for that ride. It’s sad to see him go.”
On Sunday Haussler lined-up for Australia at the Olympic Games test event in London. It was the first time he had pulled on a national jersey as a professional and marked the end of a long saga involving his German ties. In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews, Haussler talks about the process, what he went through and his pride in wearing the Australian jersey.