With American sprinting ace Tyler Farrar cleaning up at the Eneco Tour
and Lance Armstrong-mania sweeping through Ireland, it was easy to miss
a small piece of news last week.
And unless you were a German or
Australian, you probably wouldn't have taken much notice, or even if
you did, may not have cared.
I noticed. I cared.
centred on Heinrich Haussler's decision to keep his German racing
licence through to at least 2010, the year the world road championships
come to Australia.
That's right, in September next year, the
crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of the cycling world will be coming to our shores and
with Haussler, we have - had - a potential winner-in-waiting.
Over the weekend, I trawled through my suitcase that accompanied me
during this last Tour de France. Sooner rather than later, I'll need to
replace ol' faithful, or at the very least find a new handle, which
broke on the day of the fourth stage team time trial in Montpellier.
it's a little sad, but for some bizarre reason, I recall these useless
tidbits rather well. Probably because I distinctly remember lugging 25
kilos' worth of crap in and out of the car, and up and down hotel
staircases for more than a fortnight, and sans handle, with a certain
degree of exasperation and difficulty.
Anyway, it was not the suitcase itself, but what was in
the suitcase that was important, as it contained my notes from each of
the twenty-one stages, and on those sheets of ruled paper, quotes from
the various stage winners.
Stage one, two, threeÃ¢â¬¦ Ah, yes, here we go: the thirteenth stage from Vittel to Colmar.
In case you'd forgotten, Haussler chose to break away with Christophe
Moreau just three kilometres into a seriously tough,
In mind-numbingly cold, driving
rain and against the odds, the pair was joined by a few more before the
boyish, slightly girlish-faced German revealed what he intended to do
ever since the stage route was announced, methodically dropping his
companions with a metronomically captivating display of power.
So emotional was Haussler that when he crossed the line solo,
three-minutes-and-thirty-four seconds short of the five-hour mark, he
broke down and cried.
The entire performance was fantastic to
watch, especially in light of his intention to change his racing
licence from Germany to Australia at the end of the year, something the
Inverell-born (his Mum and Dad are Australian and German, respectively,
allowing him the benefit of two passports) CervÃ©lo TestTeam rider had
thought about doing the last few years.
Afterwards, that intent
was confirmed to reporters in Colmar: "Next year I'm going to be riding
for Australia," Haussler stated, telling my colleague and Sydney Morning Herald
journalist Rupert Guinness that we can already celebrate his victory as
an Australian win. "Yeah, I'd say so," he said in the typically laconic
fashion us Aussies are renowned for.
"I moved to Germany when I
was 14 to turn pro; it was my dream to turn pro. But, as I'm starting
to get older, I feel more Australian. That's why I made the decision.
It's always been in the back of my head."
At the post-race
press conference, before I asked Haussler a question about the stage, I
jokingly told him that he forgot to mention the women are
better-looking in Australia when asked his reasons for changing his
racing identity. He grinned a cheeky grin. I was beginning to like this
guy Ã¢â¬â not many people get my lame jokes, let alone smile or laugh at
When Haussler rode for his previous team, Gerolsteiner,
which no longer exists, the German-registered squad naturally wanted
him to keep his German racing licence. Now that he's with CervÃ©lo,
Haussler said, it doesn't matter where his licence is registered.
"That's why I want to ride for Australia."
If the decision was
made in his mind, and he'd told reporters so at the world's biggest
bike race, what on earth brought about the change?
like to start in the BDR (Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, the German cycling
federation) jersey in my former homeland," Haussler was quoted as
saying, referring to next year's world championships in the Victorian
seaside town of Geelong. "The course is good for me. In 2010, I will
plan my season so that I can be there."
After what I so
convincingly heard at the Tour, this just doesn't sound like Haussler
talking. And in a year where the world championships is on home turf Ã¢â¬â
an incredibly rare occurrence Ã¢â¬â and what's more, suit him to a T, why
wouldn't he want to ride Ã¢â¬â and win Ã¢â¬â in the green and gold?
desperate to talk to him. But before I do, I invite you (via the
comments) to send any theories you may have on his allegiance
or questions you'd like to ask Heinrich.
I'll do my best to pose these
to him, and of course, ask him why he decided against relinquishing his