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"Today he was fourth, and if tomorrow is the same, if there is no wind, we will not be able to blow the race apart.  That would be wasting strength for the later stages to come."

Photo: Sirotti








09.03.2015 @ 19:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Though the stage became somewhat ponderous near the end, the fans in Contres were nevertheless treated to a nervous and exciting finishing sprint, even if the eventual winner was no great surprise.  With his unbelievable power and speed, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took the victory on the line.  Heinrich Haussler played a strong role in this final battle and came up with an impressive fourth place.  
The stage between Saint-Remy-lès-Chevreuse and Contres was missing the spiciness that was expected since there was a decided lack of wind. And this absence was noticed by all. 


“There was no wind, so it blocked up the race a little bit,” Rik Verbrugghe, IAM Cycling sports manager, confirmed.  “There was a small breakaway of two riders, and they still managed to go almost all the way to the finish without being caught.  But we must remember that the stage didn’t roll as expected since we didn’t have the weather we had hoped. 


"In the last kilometers the peloton was all one big group, not lined out in single file as would be normal for a stage like this, so it was very nervous.  The riders were well scared that everyone would want to be a part of the sprint, which is almost certainly one of the reasons that caused Tom Boonen to crash and abandon today.  It is clear that a stage that is blocked up like this can be very nervous and dangerous in the final sprint.” 


Heinrich Haussler, IAM Cycling’s sprinter, could also attest to the nervousness felt throughout the stage.  Having garnered himself fourth place on the stage in a hotly contested sprint, the Australian champion reported that a palpable tension rippled through the pack in the final kilometers. 


“I am happy.  It was a long day in the saddle, not very complicated because no one really attacked, and the profile was completely flat,” Haussler explained.  “But the sprint was really insane.  We had to catch the two breakaway riders who lasted way into the final kilometers, so everyone was just going faster and faster coming up to the finish.”
For those expecting and hoping for a windy day, they should take heart since it is likely only a postponement of the conditions.  Tuesday’s stage arrives in Saint-Amand-Montrond, which is famous in the cycling world as being an area where dangerous echelons are the norm, as was the case in the 2013 Tour de France.  But the fans, who are eager to see a full-sized repeat during this Paris-Nice stage, could nevertheless be disappointed. 


“They have not announced what the winds will be like for tomorrow, so we will have to play it by ear to begin with,” Verbrugghe added.  “It may be the same kind of stage.  But after all, it is the riders who make the race.  On a finish like that, it’s likely we cannot do great things, even with a sprinter as strong as Heinrich Haussler, we don’t have the required speed.  Today he was fourth, and if tomorrow is the same, if there is no wind, we will not be able to blow the race apart.  That would be wasting strength for the later stages to come.  But if there is wind, we will try to do something.  But in order for that to be possible, the weather conditions will have to be different.”

Jérôme Pineau shared his director’s assessment of the situation.


“Normally when you get to Saint-Amand-Montrond, the wind plays a significant role,” Pineau explained.  “But apparently they are not going to tell us at all what is expected of the wind, so we will have to wait and see what happens.  We will be monitoring the weather tomorrow morning.  If the wind is going to be stiff, then it completely changes the stage, so we will hope that will be the case.”



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