Despite an inauspicious Classics campaign thus far, Cervélo TestTeam surprised in yesterday's Paris-Roubaix, with Thor Hushovd and Roger Hammond taking second and fourth respectively.
It was the type of performance many expected of the Professional Continetal team when the Spring beckoned; however injuries to German riders Heinrich Haussler and Andreas Klier threatened to derail its campaign, with Hushovd and Hammond saving face courtesy of their brace of top five finishes.
British riders Hammond (pictured right) and Jeremy Hunt were instrumental in the success, as the former explained after the finish. "In the team meeting we agreed we needed someone in the break," said Hammond.
"There were four of our guys jumping around and they did a great job and then Jeremy Hunt got in the break and we were nice and relaxed, except in the back of my mind this meant we were with the big guys and we had to go when they went. Fortunately with the help of all the other guys, we were protected and that meant Thor and I were able to follow when they really went.
"Then I was hoping to open up the race early and make Boonen and Cancellera commit. But Cancellera was isolated, he was on his own in the front so I started attacking early, but they also started following me really early."
Hammond admitted that Cancellara's attack effectively relegated the rest of the field to second immediately; this was reflected in the way he rode after the Swiss rider fled with about 50km remaining.
"Cancellera was unbelievable, he was on a different planet, and we realised we had to ride for second directly. So we started racing for second once he was on his own. I mean to get second and fourth is not bad really, if you take Cancellera out of the equation we got first and third.
"I think we cancelled the bad luck that we had last month. It as really nice to see the team performing like we know they can," added directeur sportif Jean-Paul van Poppel. "Even without Andreas [Klier] and Heinrich [Haussler] here, we still had a great team today. Everything went according to plan.
"What can you do about Cancellera? He had a super day again. We saw him like this in the world championships time trial and other times, and we expected him," he said.
As for Hushovd, who hasn't featured in the 2010 Spring Classics as expected, it was the team which made his job a bit easier in the gruelling 260km event. "I feel like I'm getting back to my old self," he explained. "Roger and Jeremy Hunt, the whole team did a fantastic job today keeping pace at the front. I was really, really tired at the end but I managed to edge out Flecha."
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