• Heinrich Haussler of Bahrain Victorious competing in cyclocross (Instagram)Source: Instagram
Australian Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain Victorious) has taken to the mud this road offseason and will compete in the cyclocross world championships in Ostend this weekend.
SBS Cycling Central

28 Jan 2021 - 11:49 AM 

Haussler discovered cyclocross through friend Sacha Weber, German national cyclocross champion and elite mountain-biker, and has been a keen 'hobbyist' since as he told Flemish publication Het Nieuwsblad.

“I don't have a camper or caretaker or mechanic, but that doesn't bother me," said Haussler. "I am a hobbyist among professional cross riders, but I know that even as a road veteran I get better from such an intensive winter in the field. You can't imagine how happy I am as a child that I can go to the World Cup. ”

The Australian road cyclist admits that he's not at the level of the top riders, and that a goal for him is not to be lapped by raging favourite, Dutch cyclocross and road star Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

"Mathieu and Wout are finely balanced, but the course will be decisive," said Haussler. "If I finish the race without Mathieu chasing me down, then my first World Championships will be super successful."

Erik Vetisch was the only Australian to compete at last year's cyclocross world championships in Dübendorf, Switzerland. The New South Wales rider finished 64th in a strong junior field which was won by Belgium’s Thibau Nys in muddy, wet conditions.

Haussler is doing the whole project solo, with any support as he travels, trains, cleans his bike and does his own mechanical repairs and preparation.

"The cyclo-cross itself is only ten per cent of the work," he said. "I go to the races all by myself, I arrange and pay for everything myself. I do the reconnaissance and then I have to quickly clean my two bikes myself before the actual race.

"I don't have a mechanic. Sometimes Sacha Weber's girlfriend gives me my spare bike – if she's not already busy cleaning his bike."

The physiological level of the sport is higher than Haussler expected going in, and he says he has reaped the benefits from cyclocross competition on the road for his team Bahrain Victorious.

"I thought 'oh well, typically Belgian, a bit of a cross in the mud and guys who can't make it on the road'. I know better now," he said. "The top cyclists have a much larger engine than the vast majority of the pros on the road.

"Last year, I rode seven crosses. But by running, sprinting, those specific training sessions, going in the red for an hour each time, I pushed my limits. I already experienced this on the road in February and early March last year. I had so much more power, was more explosive, and could go deeper."

Haussler is in awe of the technical skills of the top riders, with van der Poel and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), also riding on the road and attracted significant praise from the Aussie veteran.

"Mathieu and Wout will also win everything on the road," said Haussler. "They are gladiators. Sometimes on a course recon, I just stop and watch them take a turn, pick a line, do a descent. Their manoeuvrability and steering skills are phenomenal."

"I'm not only talking about the two big names, but also about Pidcock, Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout, Vermeersch, Hermans, you name it. Cyclo-cross is the step to become a big pro on the road.

"I have two five-year-old boys and if they want to start cycling at the age of eleven, I send them into cyclo-cross. I can beat myself up for not discovering it twenty years earlier."