• Jack Haig finished the men's under-23 road race world championships in 13th position
Orica-GreenEDGE neo-professional Jack Haig will have a lot of eyes on him next season as the talented Australian prepares to live up to the hype in WorldTour company.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
23 Nov 2015 - 10:24 AM 

It was big news when Australian Jack Haig took second in this year’s Tour de l’Avenir, arguably the biggest race of the year for any young rider with aspirations to win a Grand Tour one day. Previous winners, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), have gone on to become superb stage racers in the WorldTour.

Haig, the 2013 Subaru National Road Series champion, went to the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy in 2014 with the expectations of many that he would shine in the under-23 scene. While he had a solid first year, it was during his second season that realised his promise with a number of top results against the best young riders in the world.

Respectable, if unspectacular, results characterised the start of the year for Haig. A 16th place finish at the Tour Down Under and eighth at the under-23 road nationals were slightly below expectations. A crash in the Tour de Bretagne in April ruled him out for two months in the middle of the season, which happened not long after he had recovered from a fractured elbow he sustained in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in February.

Despite the rocky start, Haig was able to emerge on the other side in good shape for his main objectives of 2015. Riding as a super-domestique for team-mate Robert Power in the Giro della Valle d'Aosta, he was able to hang on for a credible result of ninth in the tough Italian race. And more importantly, he was able to help Power take the General Classification win.

Haig entered the Tour de L’Avenir as the team leader after Power was struck down by injury and had the goal of improving on his 12th place of last year.

“Jack started the Tour de l’Avenir hoping for a top 10 on GC, yet I was quietly confident he would finish top five at worst. By the time we got to the Alps and the serious climbs after Stage 3, Jack’s resilience stood true every stage,” said James Victor, the Under-23 Australian men’s road coach and director sportif for the Jayco-AIS team.

“It wasn’t so much a case of Jack having a ‘special day’ in the Alps to enhance his GC chances, but more his resilience to keep working hard to the finish of every mountain top finish. Stage by stage he was sneaking through the top 10 and into the last stage started in fourth.

“A brutal final stage and mountain top finish saw him finish second on the stage and move into second overall.

“He and the Russian stage winner (Matvei Mamykin, Itera-Katusha) had dropped the Spanish yellow jersey (Marc Soler, Movistar) and I could see as we progressed through the final three tough stages, the harder and longer the climbs got, and the more days of racing, Jack was holding up really well.”

Haig finished the event a meagre one minute and nine seconds behind Soler on the general classification after nearly 25 hours of racing.

“One more climb or one more stage may have seen an even better result,” said Victor. “This was one of the season highlights for the team and after six interrupted months of injury for Jack, the take home message was ‘never give up’.”

That consistency, perseverance and stamina will hold Haig in good stead for his neo-professional season with Orica-GreenEDGE. He will be a rider to keep a close eye on as he is likely to become a household name in the near future.