If Zabel had won...

The World's road race on Sunday was very nearly one of Erik Zabel's last races as a pro. Had he won...

The World's road race on Sunday was very nearly one of Erik Zabel's last races as a pro. Had he won the race, he would have upheld his promise to his wife and 12 year-old son, and retired at the end of the season.

"I had the dream of becoming World Champion, and promised my son: If I get the title, then it's your turn. I will have more time for you. I couldn't have imagined to keep on riding. But now I will fulfil my contract through 2008," the German press agency dpa reports him as saying.

"Maybe I did too much in the last few kilometres in order to get to the front. I had to go for all or nothing," he said, adding, "It is brutal when when you see the finish line 50 meters ahead of you, see that you are leading and then you lose anyway." He isn't letting it get him down, though. "But runner-up World Champion isn't bad." Zabel also finished second in 2004 and third in 2002.

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