FRESH off a contract extension and being named in Australia’s World Championships team, Jack Haig’s confidence is sky high heading into one of the cycling season’s biggest events.
Haig will roll up to the start line for his third consecutive Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) this weekend as he looks to continue a breakout 2018.
Now based in the tiny landlocked principality of Andorra, the 25-year-old’s training is starting to pay off in the form of results.
He finished third at the Tour of Utah recently, third at the Tour of Slovenia, and performed impressively at the Giro d’Italia before a late-race fadeout in the three-week epic.
His Giro performance led him to be named team leader at the Tour de Suisse, in which he finished 13th against some of the world’s best.
“Leading the team has been a really good experience. I thought my legs were good at the Giro but the end of the race was difficult and I leant a lot at the Tour de Suisse even though I wasn’t at my best,” Haig told the Weekly from Andorra this week.
“I think the main thing for me has just been that consistency and also the experience I’m getting from every race.”
So good has Haig’s year been, his Mitchelton Scott team re-signed him for two years with a year remaining on his current contract. Head sporting director Matt White said the team views Haig as “a really integral part of our team moving forward”.
“In some ways, Jack has been performing on a higher level than we had actually planned, so we wanted to reward him for that with a new contract for next year and an additional year on top of that,” White said.
Haig, Damien Howson and Adam Yates will ride in support of general classification hopeful Simon Yates in the high mountains at the Vuelta.
“We’ve seen Jack work really well with Simon during the Giro this year,” Mitchelton Scott’s Julian Dean said.
“He was a big standout for the team there, and we will be looking to see more of the same from Jack again. He will be able to come into this race with a lot more confidence after his performance at the Giro.”
And Haig couldn’t agree more.
“Now with the way the team is set up we go to every race with a really good team,” he said.
“That’s exciting because every race you’re in you know you have someone with the
potential to win.”
While he wants to take on more of a team leading responsibility, Haig knows that a major part of his role moving forward will be to support the likes of the Yates brothers and star Colombian climber Esteban Chaves.
Fellow local Chris Hamilton will again be lining up at the Vuelta for Team Sunweb, and has also been picked to ride in the world titles alongside Haig next month.
Haig and Hamilton have ridden alongside one another in their past three grand tours.
“It’s nice to have Hamo at those races too. Him, me and Zak Dempster had a coffee a couple of times before stages as a bit of a Bendigo crew at the Giro,” he said.
“Worlds will be good, I went for the first time as an elite last year and so I’m looking forward to going to Austria this year and racing with those guys.”
The 2018 Vuelta a Espana starts on Saturday.
– Joel Peterson