There's a saying in German that the second-place finisher is actually the first loser, but Gerolsteiner's René Haselbacher doesn't see it that way. He finished second Wednesday in the Volta a Catalunya's third stage, behind Thor Hushovd but in front of Robert Hunter and Erik Zabel.
"I'm overjoyed with the result, although 20 meters before the finish line I saw myself as the winner!" he described the stage on his website, www.haselbacher.com. "The last 20 km were super hectic because of the strong wind. Yesterday we rode for Heinrich Haussler, today it was my turn. It worked out perfectly. At the 2 km sign, Phonak provided the right speed. I had a colleague at my side. 700 meters before the finish line I catapulted myself from position 25 over 20 positions directly on to Hushovd's rear wheel. 200 meters before the finish line the Norwegian opened the sprint. I waited until the 150 meter mark and shot by him. What a great sprint!"
Haselbacher thought he had won, when who shoots by him with 20 meters to go but Hushovd. "I was irritated. But Hushovd is a world-class sprinter who at 70 km per hour can still accelerate. I jumped forward but he beat me by a centimetre."
Haselbacher also noted, "I'm not superstitious, but lately I've been getting crazy start numbers: I had the number 13 in the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt, in the Rheinland-Pfalz number 1 and here the number 113. Crazy!"
Is the Tour de France in his future? "I'm not thinking about it right now, but in the next few days I will talk to the team management about a nomination. This year I want to stand out with success and performance instead of with big words."