Heinrich Haussler will be the marquee name at IAM Cycling next year and the Australian is hoping that he will discover the same kind of esprit de corps on the squad that he found at Cervélo Test Team during its maiden season in 2009.
After competing in the WorldTour with Garmin-Sharp in recent years following its merger with Cervélo at the end of 2010, Haussler has no qualms about moving to a Pro Continental team next season, pointing out that he found himself in the same boat when he joined Cervélo, even if the presence of reigning Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre acted as something of an insurance policy when it came to wildcard invitations to the biggest races.
"I don’t think it’s necessarily a big step; I made the same step four years ago with Cervélo Test Team," Haussler told Cyclingnews. "Maybe the team doesn’t have big names like Carlos Sastre and Thor Hushovd but it’s still a great team. There’s a good bunch of guys who have been brought together. The team has a lot of potential. We might have to depend on invites for some of the big races but if we perform well and start winning, we'll get some good starts."
So often relegated to a supporting role in the classics at Garmin, Haussler is enthusiastic about the challenge of acting as outright leader next spring. "That's something really important to me, to go into a team where I'm a captain," he said, admitting: "The last two years I've got to that level but I haven't performed well and got the big results. Now I want to try something different and I'm ready to open up a new chapter of my career and get back to that level."
Cervélo's successful debut campaign in 2009 was marked by a strong start to the season and Haussler is looking for something similar this time around, both on a personal and a collective level. "There were times [at Garmin] when I was on form but I didn’t get the results. Maybe the confidence wasn't there – sometimes you just need one or two wins to get the confidence back and that just puts you on a whole different level and you're riding on a wave from race to race."
In recent years, Haussler has wintered in Australia, but ahead of the 2013 season, he has decided to stay in Europe and include cross training in his preparation. "This winter I'll be training the way I want to do. I'll be doing a lot of cross-country skiing and spending the winter in Europe. I'm pretty confident that I'm going to come out strong in my first couple of races."