BENDIGO cyclist Jack Haig has played a key role in delivering the Mitchelton-Scott team its first Grand Tour victory at this week’s Vuelta in Spain.
The team is owned by former Bendigo resident and passionate cycling supporter Gerry Ryan, and Haig was the main support for team mate Simon Yates’ successful bid for overall honours.
Reflecting from his base in Andorra on a season that has seen his personal stocks as a cyclist soar, a humble Haig said this year’s success was the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication.
“I think becoming more comfortable in the team and having a better understanding of my role has helped a lot, but also building a good relationship with Simon during the Giro helped my confidence.”
He said being part of the first Australian-owned team to win a Grand Tour was special, and something he was very proud of.
“It’s maybe something that I don’t quite fully appreciate or understand the significance of yet.
“I believe it can be the start of a great journey with Mitchelton-Scott… and I am lucky to be part of their first win.”
Haig secured a top-20 finish in his second grand tour of the season, and said riding for a team mate was something fans might struggle to fully appreciate.
The affable 25-year-old, now billed as Australia’s next big hope for GC success, said he doesn’t focus on his own position in the peleton.
“I was more focused on trying to do my best to help Simon and the team do well. Sometimes that means sacrificing some personal ambitions and losing time on certain days to save some energy for the next day.
“By far the Giro felt harder. I’m not too sure why..”
Given the opportunity to be the main rider in the Mitchelton-Scott team at the Tour of Utah leading in to the Vuelta was something Haig relished, finished third overall.
“It was also a nice mental refresh leaving Europe and changing the environment.”
Success in the Vuelta has buoyed Haig’s confidence leading into the UCI Road World Championships to be raced in Austria from Sunday, where he is expected to once again play a key role in an Australian team that includes fellow Bendigo cyclist Chris Hamilton.
“I know that I have good fitness and can perform well. I just need to focus on some recovery and rest.
“It can always be hard to balance training and rest after a grand tour. It’s very easy to do too much or too little, but hopefully I can figure it out and perform well at the world championships.”
– Peter Kennedy