By Gregor Brown in Sanremo, Italy
Heinrich Haussler nearly won Italy's Milano-Sanremo Saturday with the same finishing burst that won him stage two of the Paris-Nice a fortnight ago. The 25-year-old Cervélo TestTeam rider insisted his effort were for teammate Thor Hushovd.
"I came from behind with around 500 metres to go, but with too much speed," he said after his second place finish. "I yelled at Thor, 'Come on, get on my wheel,' and then I went. I was going too fast and he couldn't get on my wheel."
Haussler stormed down the right-hand side of Sanremo's Lungomare Italo Calvino. He caught all the big guns by surprise, and it was only Cavendish's last minute dash that spoilt his victory.
"I looked back and I saw bloody Cavendish coming. He was going really fast and my legs were just dying."
Fans and journalists were uncertain of the winner; for a moment it looked like Haussler, with three wins so far in 2009, had taken one of cycling's five Monuments. Despite mounted television screens displaying images of the photo finish, it was virtually impossible to tell the winner. Haussler dropped to the pavement when it was announced, "Mark Cavendish è il vincitore."
"Satisfied with second? Second place is the first loser. I know my form was good, but f**k."
Haussler began his season at the Tour of Qatar before winning two stages in Portugal's Volta ao Algarve and later doing the Belgian semi-classic weekend - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. At Paris-Nice he entered Sanremo calculations with an impressive stage win.
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