By Susan Westemeyer
Rene Haselbacher and the Tour de France seem to have a love-hate relationship. His not being nominated to ride the Tour the last two years was one of the main reasons he changed teams - to join a team where he knows he probably won't be nominated to ride the Tour.
The Austrian did not like the way he was handled at Team Gerolsteiner the last two years. "I focused myself totally on the Tour de France," he said on his website, www.haselbacher.com. "And then two times I wasn't taken. That was told to me only a week before the start."
He knows that he doesn't have a sure place on the Team Astana Tour team. "I can work with that. Of course I want to go. But when an Andreas Klöden or an Alexander Vinokourov rides for the win, then he needs a helper in the mountains." As a sprinter, Haselbacher said he has "not much chance. That is logical."
"But Gerolsteiner didn't have a man for the overall classification the last years,” he said, seemingly oblivious of Levi Leipheimer' 13th place in GC in last year' Tour. "The goal was stage wins."
So it was time for him to move on, he said. "After eight years at Gerolsteiner I had been stuck in drawer, which I couldn't get out of. I am better than I have been allowed to show the last few years."
'Hasi’ will open his season with the Tour of Qatar before taking on the Volta ao Algarve, Het Volk, Tirreno-Adriaticao, Milan-San Remo, Ronde von Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.