While many professional riders wrap up their seasons on small, party orientated islands, indulging in the things they’ve had to forgo throughout the season, Heinrich Haussler has been busy at work in a small regional area of New South Wales, Australia. Haussler proved to be more than just a famous face at the Grafton-Inverell Cycle Classic on Saturday.
It would be easy for a Grand Tour stage winner to lend his name to the top category of his hometown race and never attend the event, but Haussler’s just not that type of person. While riders signed on in Grafton on Friday afternoon Haussler stopped to speak with anyone who cared for a chat, including some of his much older fans in the town for over 30 minutes.
Instead of meeting the race at the finish line in Inverell the next day Haussler travelled along the course with the chief judge, waving to spectators and sharing a laugh while stopped road-side waiting for the riders in the Heinrich Haussler A grade race. He helped with judging of each of the sprints and was seen repeatedly putting out and pulling down signage along the course.
“It was my first time seeing the race for the whole day, so it was an exciting day,” said Haussler at the finish. “I was just with Dan Wilks doing the judging for the sprints – it was just great.”
“It was fantastic, watching it from the start,” said Haussler. “It was kind of wired seeing such a big group go just 40 kilometres into the race with no real reaction from the peloton.
“It was quiet interesting seeing guys go off the front at Waterloo and again at Wire Gully,” he added. “Especially Brendan Jones, our hometown boy, that was pretty exciting. He knows those roads better than the back of his hands – it would have been good to see him on the podium.”
Haussler posed for photos with another local hero in Scott Sunderland and also presented the podium finishers from each category when the racing was done. All of the place getters seemed to appreciate Haussler’s presence on the podium, with one women’s A grade rider in particular ensuring her hug from the German-Australian rider lasted that little bit longer.
Haussler will head to the Cayman Islands next month to bond with his new teammates at Garmin-Cervelo.
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