Already on a two-year deal with Orica-GreenEDGE from 2016, Jack Haig unofficially began life as a professional from last Saturday.

Like almost all 74 trainees for the 2015 season (see full list here), 21-year-old Haig, considered by many as Australian cycling's next big thing, began as a stagiaire with OGE from August 1.

In Europe as part of the Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy, the winner of the young rider classification at the 2014 Tour Down Under has just completed the five-day Tour d'Alsace - a 2.2 rated event on the UCI Europe Tour - in eastern France, as part of the de facto national team.

The penultimate day, Stage 3, included four categorised climbs including a pair of Cat. 1s, the Col du Platzerwasel and the famous Grand Ballon, the latter often used in the Tour de France. There, Haig finished in a select 11-man group behind solo winner Vegard Stake Laengen (Team Joker) from Norway, elevating the Victorian into fifth overall, where he would finish the next day as the best-placed Australian, 1 minute and 19 seconds behind Stake Laengen, a seventh-year professional.

"We are evolving over time into a team that rides for general classification" - Matthew White, Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director

When it comes to stagiaires turning into fully-fledged pro's, the hire-or-fire ratio is roughly one in three; that is, only one-third manage to turn dream into reality. Nonetheless, there's little pressure on the lanky redhead to produce a result since he's already penned a deal with Orica-GreenEDGE, who have a proven track record of looking after their young riders - Luke Durbridge, Adam and Simon Yates, and Caleb Ewan, to name a few.

The acquisition of Haig, along with the Yates twins and Esteban Chaves - not to mention the signing of Danish time trial champion Christopher Juul-Jensen from Tinkoff-Saxo, a valued domestique for the likes of Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador - is part of the team's steady transition from an outfit that initially targeted one-day races and week-long stage races to one oriented towards general classification, without forgetting the former.

"Chris is a very, very versatile rider," senior sports director Matthew White said. "This year he has worked incredibly well for the likes of Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador at the highest level of racing, particularly the Giro and the Classics.

"What Grand Tour he does, we will wait and see the routes, but he is a guy that is ready for the Tour de France. We are evolving over time into a team that rides for general classification and he has that experience of being part of a winning team. That's a key reason why we see him as so valuable."

As you'll see from his most recent World Tour Academy video diary, filmed on his phone while on a training camp in Livigno in the Italian Alps, Haig's a bit of a natural on camera...

Wednesday 5 Aug 2015

Trek Factory Racing rider Fabian Cancellara will make his return to competition at the upcoming Tour of Spain, which begins with a 7.4 kilometre team time trial in Puerto Banús on August 22.

In a horrific crash on the third leg of this year's Tour de France, Cancellara sustained two transverse process fractures in two vertebrae of his lower back while wearing the yellow jersey, and despite finishing the stage to the Mur de Huy, was forced to abandon the race.

"I want to be as good as I can at the Worlds."

"The initial plan was to return to racing at the Eneco Tour next week," says Cancellara. "But it's too early. I'm still experiencing some pain when I'm doing high intensity, even though I have been training for more than a week with training rides of up to four hours. I'd love to race already, but my body is just not ready yet."

Cancellara had almost the exact fracture earlier in the season at the E3 Harelbeke, returning to competition two months later at the Tour de Fjords race in Norway. The start of the Vuelta a España will mark six-and-a-half weeks since his crash at the Tour; a much faster reappearance to the racing scene.

"I'll be at the start of the Vuelta for the seventh time now. It's a race that I like: lots of kilometres, hard racing, good roads and fans that appreciate our sport.

"Above all, I want to get back into the habit of racing and helping our leaders, starting with the team time trial in Marbella. I want to be as good as I can at the Worlds. I'll suffer to get through the first week, but I need competition."

The audacity of this driver is unbelievable, not to mention his foul mouth against this unsuspecting cycle commuter, but at least he gets his just desserts...