Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) finished fourth behind Quick-Step's Fernando Gaviria on the Giro d'Italia's third stage after trying a late attack from the lead group, but he had no regrets Sunday in Calgiari. The Australian knew he had to give it ago in one of those 'you just never know' moments rather than giving Gaviria an easy time before the sprint.
The Colombian won the stage and took the pink jersey, but Haas took confidence from trying, enjoying an emotional day of racing, with his sister at home in Australia about to give birth.
Haas was one of just ten riders to make it into the echelon when Quick-Step hit the front with 10 kilometres left to race, splitting the peloton like they so often do in the Classics. He tried a solo move with 400 metres to go as the road turned to huge stone blocks. He knew he had to try something to try to beat Gaviria before the sprint finish, but a headwind made it difficult to stay away.
"Maybe I'm going to get 50 lashes from my directeur sportif for not waiting for the sprint but at the same time, I don't wait. For sure, it was a bit early and they came around me but you just never know," Haas said after the stage.
"On stage 1 there was another 'you just never know' moment [when Lukas Pöstlberger won alone and took the first pink jersey]. Everyone was hesitant in the echelon, that's why I was racking it up on the back and thinking about the long bomb."
"Gaviria is really fast, he really is, even Cav is scared of him, even though he can beat him. I'm the kind of racer that hates more than anything to give someone a win and not give yourself a winning opportunity. I was in the finale, I had a chance and so I said: 'Go!'"
"You never know how people are going to react. I knew the cobblestones came at 400 metres to go, so I tried a move. This time it didn't work but you've got try things. I've no regrets."
Impressive form, impressive echelon riding
Haas has had an impressive spring but is still missing that first victory that often opens the door to many others. He was third in the Australian national championships, second on the Willunga Hill stage at the Tour Down Under and fourth at the Amstel Gold Race.
He revealed he now expects himself to be in the finales of races like the windblown stage to Cagliari. He is not a cobbled Classics rider but knows how to 'fight' for a place up front when things get nasty.
"To be honest I expect to be there now. I feel I'm coming into my own this year," he explained.
"I've had a lot of help off the bike, trying to get my head space right, not thinking, just doing it.
"I can't believe I've held my form since nationals, I've been on podium in almost every race I've done.
"Today we all knew that that there was wind and open water. Do you ever not stay around Quick-Step when there's cross winds? I think you have to be silly to miss out. It's harder not being in the echelon. When you make it in, you don't go super, super hard and I know how to hold my own."
"Today I was trying to have a special day for my family. My sister went into labour just before I hoped on the bike and so maybe I'll soon see a photo my first ever nice or nephew."