Heinrich Haussler had vowed revenge before the start of stage two after the Cervelo Test Team riders were penalised a minute after Haussler pushed Gabriel Rasch during the team time trial. And he backed up his words with action during the 147km stage.
Haussler insisted he had pushed Rasch to stop him crashing but the judges saw otherwise. The team had briefly threatened to quit the race but turned its disappointment with the decision into anger on the road.
Just like in 2009, the Cervelo Test Team dominated the attacks and packed riders into the echelons. Haussler, Roger Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Andreas Klier, Martin Reimer and even former track sprint world champion Theo Bos were all in the 28-rider decisive front group. The boys in black teamed up with Tom Boonen and his Quick Step domestiques and blew the race apart.
Cervelo even tried to split the front group and then took turns to attack in the final five kliometres. Hammond went first and when Boonen chased him, Haussler jumped away and dragged small group clear. The late attacks opened what could turn out to be small but very precious time gaps on Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions), Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC).
Haussler gave his all during the stage and sat on the kerb side for several minutes as he recovered from his huge effort. "Other teams would have kicked up a stink about what happened in the team time trial, it just wasn't fair but we responded the right way today," Haussler told Cyclingnews.
"It’s good to see that our form is there and we're really growing as a team,” he added. “The result would have been different if we'd still been in second position after the team time trial. But that's the way it is. That's Qatar, that's cycling, that's life. You can't change. You just have to get on with it."
Haussler described his race in detail. "Sky didn't chase the break until it got to 25 minutes but they weren't really interested,” he said. “We gave it a try and attacked but the group was too big upfront and we only had five not eight riders up there. We rode half road (in the echelon) a couple of times to try and get rid of a few but it didn't come off.
"There were 10 sprinters in the group and so we started attacking them,” he added. “I went with six kilometres to go, then Roger (Hammond) came up from behind and had a go. Kluge attacked with 500 metres to go and all of us were on our limit. He got third and then I fought for the sprint and got fourth."
Haussler moved up from 107th to 13th place in the overall standings. He is 2:51 behind race leader Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil) and 46 seconds behind Boonen. That is still a significant gap considering Boonen's record in the Tour of Qatar but Haussler made it clear he will fight on.
"Hell yeah. We pulled back one and a half minutes on Sky," he said with pride. "In Qatar anything can happen. It's still all open for sure. We're going to fight until the very last stage."
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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.