Jack Haig’s Diary: the season begins

by Jack Haig


It’s been a solid start to the European season for Jack Haig and his Jayco-AIS WorldTour Academy teammates with a win (to Alex Edmondson) and another podium (for Haig) in the opening races of the year. In this second instalment of his diary for CyclingTips, Jack Haig writes about the ups and downs of living in Gavirate, why he prefers solo training rides and a recap of the early-season racing so far.


Quite a bit has happened since my last post. We have had our first couple of races in Europe, as well as quite a bit of good training in preparation for some heavy race blocks coming up. We also enjoyed some great Italian coffee and food of course, but more on that in a moment.

Life in Gavirate

The little town we live in, Gavirate, is quite nice but there isn’t a whole lot going on. There’s a gelato shop just down the road from the team apartments as well as two coffee shops we go to quite often. We call one the ‘Cobbled Street’ and the other the ‘Courtyard’.

Gelato is generally saved for after dinner as a bit of a social gathering with the guys in the team to talk rubbish and fill in some time before heading to bed. We don’t do it every night but the gelato lady definitely knows us pretty well.

The ‘Cobbled Street’ does a super piadina (flat bread sandwich) which can be handy after a hard day’s training or just for lunch. We probably spend most of our time at the Courtyard because it has a really nice sitting area out the back and it can be amazing if it’s sunny. It also does the best cappuccino!

The main lady that works there knows we don’t speak that much Italian but every time we go in she still speaks full-gas Italian at us. We generally respond with a blank face and “Un cappuccino per favore”.

There is also a local market on every Friday that does great fresh fruit and veg. Generally I will buy some fresh fish from one of the stalls and put some effort into making a really nice dinner as a bit of a treat.

One of the things I have found a little frustrating living in Gavirate is the difficulty of exploring the surrounding areas, unless it’s done whilst training. We aren’t allowed to drive or have scooters. I understand there are probably good reasons for this, but it makes life a little bit boring when we have days off. You can’t help but feel like we don’t make the most of living in Italy and the beautiful surrounding areas.

It’s possible to catch the train to Varese, but it can be bit of a mission to get to the train station at both ends and walk to the middle of Varese. It would be really nice to be able to go to Lake Maggiore or Como and do a bit of the tourist thing but instead we are just left spending days off in the apartments, at the local coffee shops or down at the gym.

Training

The training has been going really well since I got here. It has been really nice getting back on all the awesome climbs in the area and exploring some new places. I am someone that really enjoys training; I love having structure and looking over all the data that comes out of the training. I have managed to get in a really good training block in the last couple of weeks which should put me in good shape for the upcoming races. If anyone is interested in my training rides and power data, you can pretty much find all of it on Strava.

After fracturing my elbow at the Cadel Evans Road Race in Geelong I wasn’t able to do too much riding on the road, but it did give me the opportunity to do a lot of work in the gym and I am starting to feel the benefits of it now. Gym work can sometimes be hard to fit in when we’re you’re training full-gas and traveling, so having some time off the bike was a blessing in disguise, allowing me to put in a solid foundation.

I tend to do most of my hard training sessions solo because it means I can focus on what I have to do and make sure I get it done. I have found certain climbs I like doing my efforts on and sometimes the other guys want to do different climbs. For the endurance and easy rides I will normally ride with the other guys for some social interaction.

There are quite a lot of recreational riders in the area, but we don’t really have anything to do with them. The whole language barrier can make it hard and most of the time we will have efforts or some kind of pre-determined loop to complete.

One thing that I find really helpful is my Garmin 800. I use the maps on it all the time to find my way around. I also create routes on Strava and then put them on my Garmin to find new roads and climbs to keep things exciting.

Racing

So far this season we have done five one-day races, all around the northern part of Italy. The first two were fairly flat Italian national races. The first one was Milano-Busseto and we didn’t really have a sprinter there. It was actually quite hilly in the middle so it was a good place to check the form and see how the training has been going.

On the same weekend there was Trofeo Antonietto Rancilio. Anyone that’s into coffee will know about Rancilio coffee machines. The race started at their big servicing centre. I have been emailing them to see if we can get a Rancilio machine for the apartment, which would be mint.

The race itself was really flat race with 19 laps of an 8.4km circuit and we had Alex Edmondson there for the sprint at the end. There was a crash with about 1.5 laps to go but nearly the whole team made the split and rode with the group of around 25-35 guys to the finish. Edmo crushed the sprint and took the win.

Over Easter we had three one-day races back to back. Two of the races were UCI-classified U23 races which were on quite hilly circuits, with the third race being an Italian national series event, also on a hilly circuit.

All three suited Rob Power and I quite well but there was a bit of a flu/cold going around the team and both of us got quite sick before the start of Trofeo Piva on the Sunday. Rob still did quite well making the front group and finishing 13th. I was just behind in a bigger group, finishing 40th.

Monday was Giro Belvedere, again with circuits of a slightly hilly lap before finishing with two laps of a quite steep 2km climb. Rob did well again, finishing fourth. Once again I was in the small group just behind and finished 11th.

Tuesday was GP Recioto, which was an Italian national race this year after being a UCI U23 race last year. There was a 5-7km climb just near the end before we descended all the way to the finish.

I was feeling quite tired from the last two days racing and still a little sick but surprisingly I managed to attack on the last long climb. My Garmin had gone flat during the race and I didn’t know how far to go, but I saw a sign with 10km on it and thought it was 10km to the finish of which 8km would be descending. To my dismay it was actually 10km to the top of the climb!

It turned into a very hard solo breakaway attempt which ended only 1km from the finish when one rider joined me. I made a bit of a tactical mistake thinking the line was a little closer to the last corner, hitting out too early and getting outsprinted.

Here’s a short video from the race, for those that are interested:

Until next time. Ciao.

Jack

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