An ultra-powerful late surge gave German fastman Heinrich Haussler stage two of Paris-Nice in a bunch sprint. Overall, Alberto Contador of Astana remains in the lead despite a late crash.
Haussler?s late acceleration from around 150 metres to go was the sort of charge for the line that leaves the rest of the pack reeling.
The German sprinter shot out of the right-hand side of the bunch to take the third win of his season by more than two bike lengths. Columbia-Highroad?s Mark Renshaw attempted to claw back some distance, but by then Haussler was already punching the sky and pointing to the name of his sponsor on his maillot.
If Haussler's final dash for the finish was impressive, the rest of the stage was hardly memorable.
There were no real attempts to form echelons as so often happens early on in Paris-Nice, and the biggest threat to Alberto Contador came when he was entangled by a big crash late on.
Contador did not appear to have been hurt by the mass pile-up, and as it took place with less than three kilometres to go, the time lost did not count. The Spaniard gave tv cameras the thumbs-up twice as he pedalled at an easy pace to the line, finishing around a minute down on the race leaders.
"I was extremely lucky," Contador said later. "I fell, but when I went down I held onto another rider and did not actually hit the tarmac. I broke some of my front wheel spokes, but that was all."
"It was a pretty nervous stage, with some cross-winds, and Rabobank and Cervélo wound things up in the last 60 kilometres for the bunch sprint."
"Holding onto the leader's jersey was not my main aim for the stage, but it's very difficult to let anybody take over because we're all very close together on time. So when the sprinters teams see that they can pull back a break, they will."
Disappointingly there were few other fireworks on the 195.5 kilometre stage from Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire to La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin. A four-man break of the day was pulled in with around 20 kilometres to go, and then Columbia-Highroad and Skil-Shimano set things up for the final sprint. Haussler, though, was the quickest on the line.
25 years old Haussler?s early season of 2009 has been more than promising. Second overall in the Tour of Qatar and the winner of the points and Best Young Rider?s jersey, the German then took the first and last stages of the Tour of the Algarve before heading to Paris-Nice.
Currently holding dual German-Australian nationality, Haussler first hit the public eye when he won a stage of the Vuelta aged 21 in his first year as a pro. Other highlights of his career include the first stage of the 2007 Dauphine Libere.
Tuesday?s stage three, if slightly lumpier than Monday?s stage in its middle section, should produce another opportunity for Haussler and co.. Running from Orval to Vichy and 178 kilometres long, Contador?s principal concern will once again be staying out of trouble in crashes.
Paris-Nice stage two: Results
1. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo 195.5km in 4hr 45min 01sec
2. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Columbia-Highroad
3. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre
4. Tom Veelers (Hol) Skil-Shimano
5. Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas
6. Sebastian Chavanel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux
7. Sebastian Hinault (Fra) Ag2R
8. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis
9. Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
10. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
30. David Millar (GB) Garmin
65. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervélo
114. Dan Fleeman (GB) Cervélo
127. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin all same time
Overall Classification after stage two
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 4hr 56min 06sec
2. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin at 7sec
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse D?Epargne at 9sec
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 11sec
5. David Millar (GB) Garmin at 14sec
6. Joost Posthuma (Hol) Rabobank at 18sec
7. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step at 19sec
8. Tony Colom (Spa) Katusha same time
9. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo at 20sec
10. Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Katusha at 21sec
63. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cérvelo at 47sec
134. Dan Fleeman (GB) Cérvelo at 1min 18sec
Britain's Jeremy Hunt chases down the break for his Cervelo team-mate Haussler
The peloton comes alongside the Loire
Heinrich Haussler wins stage two with a dominant sprint to the line
Still in yellow: Alberto Contador survived a crash on stage two to retain his race lead
Prologue: Contador wins, Wiggins second
Prologue analysis: Contador the unstoppable?
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