Garmin-Cervélo was potentially the strongest team in Milan-San Remo with Thor Hushovd, Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler as possible winners. But the crash on the Le Manie climb, 90km from the finish, totally changed their three-card race strategy, leaving just Haussler with any chance of success.
Unfortunately Haussler lacked that vital little bit of endurance in the very final part of the race and finished in 18th, 27 seconds behind race winner Matt Goss, after being distanced on the Poggio.
Hushovd finished 127th at 9:32. He crashed hard before Le Manie and never saw the front of the race again.
"This was a really different Milan-San Remo compared to other years and with my crash I knew my race was over," Hushovd said as he headed home to Monaco to lick his wounds and focus for the cobbled Classics.
"I broke my wheel so Johan [Van Summeren] gave me his. But I landed hard on my hip and just didn't have the strength in my left side to really continue to push.
"We had Andreas [Klier] and Heinrich [Haussler] in the front so it was ok for us. Heinrich did a strong race, I think in the end maybe he just didn't have the legs. It happens."
Haussler was hugely disappointed that he was unable to contest the sprint against Goss but Garmin-Cervélo team manager Jonathan Vaughters pointed out that the Australian lacked the endurance for a 300km race due to his injuries in 2010.
"This race was a really good example of why asking about which leader you're going to ride for is a kind of irrelevant question," Vaughters said.
"In our meeting we said that the legs and luck were going to decide this and that's how the Classics are. If one guy crashes and one doesn't make the split because he's not a climber, Tyler [Farrar], then you have one guy and Heinrich is the leader and that's that.
"It's up then up to him to do it or not. Today Heinrich was just a tiny bit off. It doesn't surprise me he had a bit of a problem after 300km because he raced 20 days [in 2010] because of his injures.
"He doesn't have a Grand Tour in his legs, he doesn't have the foundation. I said it's going to be a bit of a comeback season for him and I'm right. He's almost there to have the foundation to do 300km. Thor does but his day ended on the ground in a crash."
Despite missing out in Milan-San Remo, Vaughters had the intelligence to keep the Classics season in perspective. The spring has only just begun.
"We've got a lot of big races coming up, so if we look back all the time we're going to trip over what's in front of us."
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