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Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) after stage 3 at the Tour of Qatar
Australian takes overall lead from unlucky Boonen
Tour of Qatar leader Heinrich Haussler has said that his Garmin-Cervélo squad approached stage 3 of the event as though it were a one-day race since the team felt that it was the last chance break up the field.
The Australian had three teammates in the front group that formed in the windy conditions that hit Wednesday's stage, and he took possession of the gold jersey after previous holder Tom Boonen (Quick Step) punctured in the finale.
"At the team meeting last night, we had a look at the wind on the internet for the rest of the week," Haussler said after his stage win. "We knew that today was pretty much the final day to do something, so we treated it as a one-day race.
"It was the last stage where we could make up some time on GC, and we ended up getting the stage win, the yellow jersey and the points jersey, so it all went really well."
Haussler won a very tight sprint against the in-form Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) on Tuesday, but he enjoyed a more comfortable margin of victory on stage two. Like the previous day, however, Haussler admitted that he was able to benefit from another team's lead-out to time his closing effort to perfection.
"Bernie Eisel from HTC did a lead-out for pretty much all the sprinters," he said. "Every single guy in that group today was really strong. There was a lot of tactics and everyone was looking at one another.
"There was a full on headwind and Bernie went pretty early and then the others went pretty early and I was just left with a gap in the sprint so I went past. Today was just all about timing."
Haussler was sympathetic to Boonen's plight, but is now firmly focused on defending his overall lead. Now lying 14th at 3:31, the Belgian is out of the running for final victory, but Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) is lurking at four seconds.
"It's unfortunate for Tom, a flat tyre is probably the worst way to lose a yellow jersey," Haussler said. "But there's still two more days and it's going to be a really hard fight for the jersey."