Cervélo TestTeam's Heinrich Haussler went close to victory yet again at the Tour of Qatar on Wednesday but his team's hard work in the sprints left the Australian-born German yet again on the podium as someone else snatched the stage win.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) beat Haussler on Tuesday in Mesaieed, and on Wednesday, Italy's Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Doimo) got the better of the men in black on the Al Khor Corniche.
Haussler was again second in the sprint, while new teammate and former track sprint world champion Theo Bos was fourth behind JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank).
"We've still got two more days to work it out and have a go,” Haussler told Cyclingnews after pulling on the silver points jersey. “We can hopefully win a stage and perhaps the overall too. We're not going to give up and we're going to keep riding as a team. But if we want to win the Tour we need some wind.
"We went close but it was crazy out there,” he added. “It's always like that when the stage is so easy, there's no selection and everyone thinks they're a sprint and wants to get in there amongst it all. It was pretty dangerous."
Chicchi was impressive in the tailwind sprint as he came off Bos' wheel with 300 metres to go. Yet Haussler was convinced he could have won if he'd been on his teammate’s back wheel and able to benefit from Bos' spectacular acceleration.
Cervélo TestTeam tried to lead out the sprint but after the final roundabout, it was Haussler who failed to latch on to Bos' back wheel. Blunt and forthright, Haussler was the first to admit he had made a mistake.
"We were going to lead out because we knew it was a tailwind after the last roundabout,” said Haussler. “We'd planned to hit the front with five guys and then go as fast as we could. It almost came off.
"Theo Bos was going to lead me out but I had to came back from 15th position and so couldn’t get on his wheel before he accelerated,” he said. “Roger (Hammond) shouted at him to go and he went, but he didn't know I wasn't there. Fortunately we still got second and fourth, or whatever but the plan didn't work out as we'd hoped."
Haussler is still angry with race officials after his push during the opening team time trial saw the whole team penalized a minute in the overall standings.
He has been trying to make up the time ever since then. He gained a six-second time bonus for second place on Wednesday and moved up to eighth overall, 2:37 behind leader Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil). However even if the lanky Dutchman cracks in the final stages, Haussler is still 42 seconds behind Tom Boonen.
But the never say die classics rider has no plans to give up on trying to win a stage and the overall standings in Qatar.
Haussler, and the Cervélo TestTeam will have chance of a stage victory on Thursday at the end of stage five from Lusail to Madinat al Shamal over a distance of 142km.
No strong winds are forecast but the finish is at the very tip of the Qatar peninsular and so conditions could be difficult: just as Haussler and the Cervélo TestTeam like them.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.