Heinrich Haussler of the Cervélo TestTeam was one of the strongest riders in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen, but finished only fourth, done in by three Quick Step Belgians and their countryman Niko Eeckhout of the An Post-Sean Kelly Team. However, the young Australian-German wasn't upset, having had three wins already this season. "It wasn't terrible. This was just a test for the Ronde van Vlaanderen," he said.
Haussler was part of a five-man attack group which formed with 30 km to go – the lone German together with Quick Step's Tom Boonen, Stijn Devolder and eventual winner Kevin van Impe, along with Eeckhout. The 24-year-old tried several attacks, but the Belgians tracked him down ruthlessly.
"What else could I do?" Haussler asked on Sportwereld.be. "The three Quick Step riders were too much for me. This was a good test for the Ronde van Vlaanderen. I really believe that I can win that Classic."
Ironically, the German rider had tried to become a teammate of his three Quick Step rivals at the end of last year. Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere disclosed after the race that Haussler had been offered to him for this season. "But I turned him down," the Belgian said. "At that time he was still a sprinter. I didn't need that, with Boonen and Weylandt on the team."
Lefevere noted however, that Haussler had developed drastically this season. "He is no longer the same rider," he said.
The Cervélo rider's strong performance came only days after his dramatic second place in Milano-Sanremo, where he was beaten by in a photo-finish by Columbia-Highroad's Mark Cavendish.
Haussler, who has citizenship in both countries, moved from Australia to German at the age of 15 to pursue a cycling career. He turned pro with Team Gerolsteiner in 2005, where his biggest win was a stage in the 2005 Vuelta a España. This season, he is racing with the new Professional Continental Cervélo TestTeam after Gerolsteiner folded last fall.
The finish of this race was awesome – can it hold up to the others mentioned in our forum thread "Great finishes"? (SW)