Haller beats Van Aert to win BEMER Cyclassics

Marco Haller (Bora-Hansgrohe) produced a big upset to beat Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in a sprint to win the Bemer Cyclassics.

The pair were part of a five-man move that made it away to contest the finish, and Haller used a lead-out from teammate Patrick Konrad to hit out early.

Van Aert, making his first appearance since the Tour de France, was left scrambling as Haller moved left and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) snatched the slipstream. He fought back and moved out, passing Hermans, but it was too late to overhaul Haller.

The German rider roared in delight as he crossed the line, and then again several times beyond it as he soaked up the biggest win of his career.

"The sprint itself was very good indeed. To beat Wout van Aert is one thing, but to have quick legs after such a race is another," Haller said. 

"Im very happy with the condition and to take the victory in such a big race and especially for a German team. I'm very proud and happy."

The Bemer Cyclassics was the rebranded 2022 edition of the Hamburg WorldTour one-day Classic, often won by a sprinter but with the potential for small groups to reach the finish.

The 204.7km race was largely flat, but for three ascents of the short sharp Waseberg climb - 0.9km at 7.7%. The climb was tackled once with 65km to go and then twice in quick succession in the final 25km.

There was a big crash on the nervy run-in to the second ascent, with favourites like Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep-AlphaVInyl) ruled out of contention. A number of Jumbo-Visma riders were caught up but van Aert escaped it.

Bora-Hansgrohe then rolled out their creative strategy, sending Konrad on the attack to link up with Ide Schelling from the breakaway. That was in anticipation of the final ascent of the Waseberg, where Van Aert made his move, stamped on the pedals, and split the field. Konrad had a head start, Hermans and Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos) responded, and Haller produced a remarkable effort to make it on.

Those five riders rode all the way to the line, with Bora enjoying the numerical advantage and Konrad sacrificing himself for the faster Haller. Konrad took charge in the final kilometre, and Haller hit out early on the right before sprinting through the bend over to the left.

Van Aert appeared to be caught napping for a slight second, and it was Hermans who accelerated into the wheel. That left Van Aert on the back foot and though he came back strongly, it wasn't enough, and Haller held on by a fine margin for a victory he celebrated in style.

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) led home the next reduced group containing some of the pure sprinters at 10 seconds.

"I said to Patrick, fourth and fifth is also good so we better ride, because if it comes back with 20 guys we cannot guarantee a spot on the podium, " Haller said. 

"But like this we had a good chance and obviously with the victory at the end it's a dream come true."

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