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Van Poppel expecting big spring from Haussler

Cervelo Test Team’s Heinrich Haussler is stronger heading into this year’s Spring Classics than he was during his breakout performance last year, according to team sport director Jean-Paul Van Poppel. He believes Haussler is not only better prepared physically this time around, but his success in 2009 also has the Australian-born rider better prepared mentally.

“He wants to show in all the Classics, but he is focused on the Ronde van Vlaanderen,” Van Poppel told “Haussler is more prepared than last year, because then it was new for him to fight at the front [in 2009]. And now he has won a stage of the Tour de France.”

Haussler had complained about knee pains during last Friday's tough mountain stage in the Volta ao Algarve. Despite the knee gripes, Van Poppel believes Haussler’s form is better timed than last season.

“Heinrich is on schedule,” he said. “Last year he was perhaps too early to form.”

Haussler fired warning shots of his arrival as a top sprinter at last year’s Tour of Qatar, where he was on the podium after nearly every stage before finishing second to Tom Boonen overall. He went on to win two Algarve stages then claimed a narrow second to Mark Cavendish at Milano-San Remo and second to Stijn Devolder at Ronde van Vlaanderen.

While not as present in the final sprints at Qatar this year, Haussler still managed two second places en route to a top 10 finish. His highest finish during Algarve last week was eighth on the opening stage.

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