German team Gerolsteiner had all the reasons to be overwhelmingly happy today: 21 year-old Australo-German neo-pro Heinrich Haussler won the first stage for Gerolsteiner in the Vuelta a España by outsprinting older rivals Martin Elmiger (Phonak) and David Latasa (Comunidad Valenciana), when at the same time his teammate Fabian Wegmann scored a stage win in faraway Poland - also in the sprint, by beating the likes of Filippo Pozzato and Danilo Di Luca.
"We're all absolutely happy - this really is great for our team," said directeur sportif Raimund Dietzen in Spain after Haussler's stage victory. "Heinrich did this in a very intelligent manner. I had said before the race that if we were to win a stage here, it would be in a breakaway. But it exceeds all my expectations that it happened so fast. That's sensational!"
Haussler had bridged to the front of the race from a chase group, and then had enough strenth left to win the sprint over two very experienced, older riders. "I'm totally happy," said the young man from Inverell, Australia, who came to Germany aged 14 to make a living out of his cycling talent. "I always sprinted fairly well, but during the race I asked myself if the other three actually knew that..." he added with a grin. (Inverell, pop. 11,000, is a famous cycling town in Australia, home to retired Australian professional, Scott Sunderland, now a DS with CSC, and also the host of the finish of Australia's toughest one-day race, the 228km Grafton-Inverell, held this weekend.)
Some thousands of kilometres to the Northeast, and just a few minutes later, his teammate Fabian Wegmann achieved the second victory for Gerolsteiner today. By beating Italian Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) and Slovenian Uros Murn (Phonak), the 25 year-old climber is now also placed second on GC behind Luca Paolini (Quick.Step). With temperatures of only 12° celsius and a mountaintop finish, today's Tour of Poland stage 5 was to Wegmann's taste.
Just like Haussler, Wegmann was part of a chase group behind Wim Van Huffel and Johan Van Summeren (both Davitamon-Lotto), which were caught at the foot of the last climb. "He just hit the gas in front and nobody was able to follow his wheel: no Di Luca, no Paolini," said a happy directeur sportif Christian Henn. "Fabian just cooked them; it was great! His performance was fantastic - really, really strong. Today we're going to party, and think over what we'll do with his second placing on GC over a glass of champagne or a beer tonight."
Bad news for Rebellin
At the same time, Gerolsteiner also had to announce some bad news: Davide Rebellin was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his right elbow as a consequence of his crash in the second stage of the Tour of Poland. Rebellin had to abandon the race the next day and was now treated in Italy. Rebellin does not need a plaster and may continue to train, but the injury does jeopardize his season' end, where the 34 year-old was planned to participate in yet another three races: the Züri Metzgete, the Giro dell’ Emilia or Paris-Tours and the Giro di Lombardia.