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Haussler rockets to Paris-Nice stage win

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Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam)

Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) (Image credit: AFP)
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The day's breakaway:

The day's breakaway: (Image credit: AFP)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) in yellow after the stage one time trial.

Alberto Contador (Astana) in yellow after the stage one time trial. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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These same fields will explode with colour in the summer but are brown as the peloton rolls through in March.

These same fields will explode with colour in the summer but are brown as the peloton rolls through in March. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The day's breakaway: Christophe Laurent (Agritubel), Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano).

The day's breakaway: Christophe Laurent (Agritubel), Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano). (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) takes the sprint win on stage two.

Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) takes the sprint win on stage two. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) steps onto the podium in Paris-Nice stage two.

Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) steps onto the podium in Paris-Nice stage two. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) wins the sprint ahead of Mark Renshaw (Columbia-Highroad)

Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) wins the sprint ahead of Mark Renshaw (Columbia-Highroad) (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) took the green jersey of best sprinter.

Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo TestTeam) took the green jersey of best sprinter. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) held onto yellow after getting caught behind a crash in the finale.

Alberto Contador (Astana) held onto yellow after getting caught behind a crash in the finale. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The peloton struggled with strong cross-winds, which the event is known for, today.

The peloton struggled with strong cross-winds, which the event is known for, today. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) tried to keep out of trouble today.

Race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) tried to keep out of trouble today. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) didn't leave too early as he had feared, and claimed victory.

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) didn't leave too early as he had feared, and claimed victory. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) wanted a win but says he might take a few more now.

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) wanted a win but says he might take a few more now. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) looks to be shaping up for another incredible year in 2009.

Alberto Contador (Astana) looks to be shaping up for another incredible year in 2009. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) was all smiles as his successful season starts.

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) was all smiles as his successful season starts. (Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) was happy to hold on to his overall lead.

Alberto Contador (Astana) was happy to hold on to his overall lead. (Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) held on to the lead despite being caught up in a crash.

Alberto Contador (Astana) held on to the lead despite being caught up in a crash. (Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Paris-Nice!

Paris-Nice! (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Warrior Juan Antonio Flecha gets ready

Warrior Juan Antonio Flecha gets ready (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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The break forms with Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi, l) and Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano). They are waiting for Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) to catch up. Later Christophe Laurent (Agritubel) joins.

The break forms with Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi, l) and Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano). They are waiting for Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) to catch up. Later Christophe Laurent (Agritubel) joins. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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The peloton races through early-season France where the trees are still in winter training.

The peloton races through early-season France where the trees are still in winter training. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Wilfried Cretskens (Silence-Lotto) is a valuable helper for Cadel Evans.

Wilfried Cretskens (Silence-Lotto) is a valuable helper for Cadel Evans. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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The break during it's Drive-Through food stop

The break during it's Drive-Through food stop (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Astana controlled the bunch in protection of yellow.

Astana controlled the bunch in protection of yellow. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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The riders in the feed zone where some riders have received their musettes already, but others are still starving.

The riders in the feed zone where some riders have received their musettes already, but others are still starving. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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A legwarmer's day in sunny but windy conditions.

A legwarmer's day in sunny but windy conditions. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Heinrich Haussler takes the stage

Heinrich Haussler takes the stage (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Haussler's win was his third victory this season

Haussler's win was his third victory this season (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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A happy Haussler on the podium

A happy Haussler on the podium (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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The German adds to Cervélo's great spring

The German adds to Cervélo's great spring (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) kept yellow despite a scary crash in front of him.

Alberto Contador (Astana) kept yellow despite a scary crash in front of him. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Haussler received the sprinter's jersey

Haussler received the sprinter's jersey (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)
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Tony Martin stays in white for the best young rider.

Tony Martin stays in white for the best young rider. (Image credit: Florian & Susanne Schaaf)

Race leader Contador faces close call

In a frantic finale, Cervélo's Heinrich Haussler timed his sprint to perfection and reaped the rewards on a tough day to La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin. The young German fired down the right-hand side of the road with 200 metres remaining, gapping rivals Mark Renshaw (Columbia-Highroad) and Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre-NGC) and forcing them to second and third respectively.

Alberto Contador had a close call in the final two kilometres due to a crash immediately in front of him. Astana's leader at this event unclipped and avoided the fallen riders. He lost no time on the classification as the incident occurred within the final three kilometres and hence maintained his overall lead.

"It's pretty much a dream come true," said Haussler. "We knew there were going to be crosswinds, and there were splits, but the boys did a great job."

Cervélo TestTeam has six wins so far this season. Haussler accounts for three of those, with two stages of the Volta ao Algarve last month and today's win. Roger Hammond won a stage in the Tour of Qatar and Thor Hushovd took out a stage in the Tour of California and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

"This is definitely a great season. Even if it ended now, it's already unbelievable. But there are so many great races coming up like Flanders and Roubaix, which are my main goals this season," said Haussler.

Two crashes marked the day, but it was the one at two kilometres out that had many concerned for some for moments. Spaniard Contador, winner of yesterday's time trial and the race leader, appeared to be one of the victims until he gave television cameras the thumbs up to signal all was fine. The winner of three Grand Tours and the 2008 Paris-Nice skirted around the crash while Columbia drove the peloton ahead.

Four men go free

Four men made the early portion of the race. Piet Rooijakkers (Skil-Shimano) took off immediately after the start of the stage in Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire. Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Christophe Laurent (Agritubel) joined him later.

The escape worked to build up a lead of 7:15 over the Astana-led peloton. However, the sprinters wanted to have their glory on what was a sunny day in northern France. Française des Jeux, Columbia and Rabobank worked to bring the gap down. The last man, France's Laurent, faced doom as he was caught with 22 kilometres remaining.

The second crash of the day occurred with 51 kilometres to go. Kevin de Weert (Quick Step), Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) and Haussler's teammate José Angel Gomez Marchante were the worst off in that crash.

It caught some riders out and forced a split with Cervélo on the front of the main group. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), who had been at the back of the peloton at the time, and David Moncoutié (Cofidis) spent some time in the chase group. The two groups reunited at the start of the closing 39-kilometre circuit, where the escape had 4:15.

Columbia-Highroad drove the pace from six kilometres out to set up Australian Renshaw for the sprint while Française des Jeux and Lampre-NGC were also placing their men at the front for Sébastien Chavanel and Mirco Lorenzetto respectively.

Then a surge came from Silence-Lotto's men. The Belgian team appeared to be positioning Belgian Champion Jürgen Roelandts for the sprint, but something different happened. As the race approached 200 metres from the finish line in La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin, Roelandts himself fired with teammate Philippe Gilbert in tow. Without Haussler's response Gilbert may have bagged the stage win.

The riders will face three category three climbs over 178 kilometres on the way to Vichy on Tuesday. Contador is likely to keep his overall lead as the sprinters should rule the day, although the 10-second bonus for the stage win may come into play.

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