Haller opened the five-rider sprint early and fended off Van Aert and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) in the Hamburg one-dayer.
“The sprint was very good,” Haller said. “To beat Wout van Aert in a sprint is one thing, but to have good legs after such a hard race is another. To take the victory in such a big race and for a German outfit, I’m very proud and happy.”
Van Aert attacked on the Waseberg climb at 17km to go and dragged Hermans, Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grendiers) and Bora Hansgrohe duo Haller and Patrick Konrad with him.
All eyes were on Van Aert to erupt at any point after he ripped up the Tour de France with three stage wins and the green jersey last month.
Van Aert hadn’t raced since he rolled into Paris and reported feeling back at his barnstorming best after the downtime.
As by far the fastest of the group, Van Aert waited on the grinding uphill sprint only to be caught off-guard and out of position by Haller’s early acceleration.
Hermans squeezed onto Haller’s wheel, and Van Aert had to maneuver past before launching a late challenge that saw him finish second.
Haller and his German Bora-Hansgrohe team was in raptures at the finish after winning its leading home race, formally known as the Vattenfall Classic and the EuroEyes Classic.
The victory is by far the biggest of Haller’s long career.
Endless years working for others during seasons with Katusha, Bahrain-Victorious and now Bora saw the Austrian short of top-tier wins.
And did he think he could ever beat Van Aert?
“One meter before the line actually,” he admitted.
That big winner’s beer will taste all the sweeter.
— BORA – hansgrohe (@BORAhansgrohe) August 21, 2022