Heinrich Haussler (IAM) brought a one-year victory drought to an end when he won today's first stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt in a bunch sprint. The Australian held off Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r) and Steele von Hoff (Garmin) to become the first leader of the biggest stage race in his former home country.
Injury and illness have made for a testing couple of years for Heinrich Haussler and going into today's first stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt, the former German hadn't won a race since last year's edition of Germany's biggest race. Again his former home country proved to be a happy hunting ground for him as he broke his drought in today's first stage of the race.
Despite a pretty hilly course, the stage came down to a bunch sprint and here IAM proved that they have come a long way in their lead-out work. Roger Kluge who had been the rider to deliver Matteo Pelucchi to his win in Tirreno-Adriatico, was again the mastermind behind a big victory for the Swiss team.
The German delivered Haussler perfectly and the Australian proved that he still has a pretty fast sprint when he held off Yauheni Hutarovich and Steele von Hoff in the final dash to the line. Kluge's lead-out was so impressive that the German himself finished 5th, just behind Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura).
The204.6km stage from Vilshofen to Freilassing had a pretty hilly profile but the final third of the race was mostly flat and so the stage was expected to suit the sprinters. The first part of the stage was pretty fast as many riders were keen to go on the attack despite the rainy weather.
After 15km of racing, the day's break was formed when Jan-Niklas Droste (Heizomat), Julian Kern (Ag2r) and Domenic Weinstein (Rad-Net Rose) took off. The gap reached a maximum of 6.10 after 40km of racing but while Droste won the first intermediate sprint and Kern the first KOM sprint, MTN-Qhubeka started to chase. They brought the gap down to less than 3 minutes and with the help from NetApp-Endura and Sky, they had the gap hovering between 1.30 and 5 minutes for most of the day.
As they approached the second KOM sprint, FDJ and Katusha took over the pace-setting and at that point the gap was down to just a minute. While Kern secured himself the first mountains jersey, they managed to extend their advantage to 1.40 but it was clear that their efforts were in vain.
Weinstein fell off the pace 35km from the finish as Droste again won an intermediate sprint. MTN and NetApp had again taken over the pace-setting and they neutralized several attacks from Katusha.
Droste also managed to win the final intermediate sprint while Arthur Vichot (FDJ) sprinted ahead to take a single bonus second ford FDJ. At this point, Sky, Giant-Shimano and Katusha were in full pursuit and 2km from the line, it was all back together.
From there all was set for a big bunch sprint and here IAM and Haussler did it all perfectly to take the first stage win and leader's jersey in the race.
Tomorrow the GC battle kicks off when the race offers its first ever summit finish. The riders will go up a big climb at the midpoint of the stage but the excitement will be saved for the 4km climb to the finish in Reit im Winkl where the climbers have the chance to take some time ahead of Saturday's time trial.
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