By Gregor Brown in Roubaix, France
Heinrich Haussler was once more a major factor in the Spring Classics on Sunday in Paris-Roubaix. The Cervélo TestTeam rider was in the main group of favorites after the Arenberg forest, and went on the attack with four others with 56km to go. When his group was caught and teammate Thor Hushovd went clear with eventual race winner Tom Boonen, Haussler was able to sit back and play a defensive role. He finished seventh after following and out-sprinting Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel in the finale.
Despite the great result for his first outing, Haussler felt he could have gone with eventual winner Tom Boonen had he paid better attention. "Before Boonen split the group with his attack, Andreas Klier had told us that Boonen was going to go and said that I had to be in the top five if I wanted to go with him," explained Haussler. "I was too far back and it was my fault, but these mistakes help you learn for the future – I have to do it better next year."
Haussler came second in both of the last two Monuments, Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen. He explained to Cyclingnews in the days leading up to the third Monument of the season, Paris-Roubaix, that he thought his best had passed and that next year he would plan to peak later – maybe he was just being modest.
"It was a good thing I pulled out of Gent-Wevelgem [on Wednesday] and saved myself for this race. I had hardly been training this week because I knew that I would just damage myself if I did, I just tried to take it easy."
If Quick Step proved strong in Ronde, it was Cervélo TestTeam who showed the numbers in Roubaix. The team had six of eight of its men in the race after the key cobbled sector of Arenberg. Roger Hammond, Haussler and Hushovd then made the front formation with former escapee and teammate Andreas Klier.
"I was protected and I was not in the wind at all until after Arenberg. I tried to force the pace, I was working with [Juan Antonio] Flecha, but everyone else was just sitting on the back and not helping. I wasted some energy then, but it was still good because we finished third and seventh."
Haussler remained with the Saxo Bank-led chase once Hushovd made the winning move with Boonen, Leif Hoste and Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Flecha (Rabobank) with 48km to go. The front group fell apart mostly due to crashes, including Hushovd's at 15.7 kilometres remaining.
Haussler marked the chase of Boonen's teammate, Sylvain Chavanel, but was without any knowledge that his teammate was in danger. "I did not hear anything, the whole time I was asking [team director] Jean-Paul [Van Poppel] what was happening, 'Should I ride or should I sit on his wheel?' If he had said to go hard and jump across I would have gone full gas."
He will now take a weeklong vacation on the beach before he returns to build for the Tour de France. He will prepare with a training camp in St. Moritz for two or three weeks, the Bayern-Rundfahrt stage race and either the Tour de Suisse or the Dauphiné Libéré.