Jack Haig’s Diary: a heavy race block

by Jack Haig


Jack Haig is nearing the end of his tenure as a Jayco-AIS World Tour Academy rider. Next season he’ll graduate to the WorldTour, beginning the first of two full seasons with the Australian-registered Orica-GreenEdge squad.

Last time we heard from Jack he was training at altitude ahead of a solid racing block in the second half of the season. On the eve of the Tour de l’Avenir, the biggest U23 race on the calendar outside the world championships, Jack checks in with CyclingTips to fill us in on his past few races and what’s coming up in his last months as an U23 before turning pro.


My first race of the second part of the season was the Giro della Valle d’Aosta. It’s probably one of the biggest and hardest under-23 tours of the year — along with the Tour de l’Avenir its where the next crop of Grand Tour contenders are found. I went in with really high hopes of a good GC result after coming off a really good block of training in Livigno.

The first stage was a 5km prologue of which 4.5km was uphill. I wanted to lay down a good time and put in a good foundation for a good GC. I ended up doing quite a good time, finishing fifth, but had an abnormally high heartrate which was kinda strange. My coach and I put it down to my body struggling with the change of altitude and possibly having too much of a taper coming into the race.

As you would have read at the time, Rob put in a smoking time in the prologue and put himself into the yellow jersey, which was unreal. It also meant we had a hard week ahead of us riding the front and controlling things.

The tour went really well — Rob ended up winning overall — and the team rode super strong. But because we had to ride the front a lot, being in the yellow jersey for most of the tour, and because the stages were super-hard, I ended up doing quite a lot of work towards the end of the stages.

I don’t have a problem helping out the team and helping to put Rob in a winning position. I actually enjoy it more than riding for myself sometimes. But I had quite high personal ambitions for this tour, so I was kinda disappointed with my result of ninth overall. But I guess that’s part of being in a team and I was super-happy to be part of such an unreal team performance.

I did manage to come away with third in a stage, which was one of my goals for the tour. So I was happy with that.

After Aosta we had a Nations Cup U23 race just down the road from our base in Almar. It was a fairly flat circuit with a couple small, pinchy climbs on it. Without a sprinter to ride for — Alex “Edmo” Edmondson was in Mexico for a track camp — it was all about trying to get into the break and mix up the race. I managed to make the early break of about 15-20 riders, which worked well until about the 100km mark.

The attacks started and the group split up. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the split and went back to what was a very reduced peloton. The break ended up staying away and I am not the best sprinter so I was somewhere mid-pack in the reduced bunch kick from the peloton.

There was only one day between Almar and traveling to France for Tour Alsace so we didn’t have much time for anything other than a couple of recovery rides.

Last year Tour Alsace was my second European race and I was still very green to European racing, but managed to come away with second on GC. This year the race was shortened by one day with a short, 7.1km flat prologue on road bikes added on the first day. I wanted to come back and do well here and after putting in a really good prologue, finishing fifth, I knew I had some good legs. I figured that if I played my cards right I should be able to finish up there in the GC.

Most of that five-stage race is about staying safe in the peloton and not losing any time. Then there is one decisive day, which is really hilly, and mostly tends to set the GC for the tour. It’s not quite a mountain-top finish because you crest the Grand Ballon and then there is about 8km on flattish roads to a slightly uphill fast sprint. The race didn’t split up that much on the climb and my GC placing didn’t change from the prologue. Fifth overall at the end of the tour.

If you have been following me on Instagram you would have seen the little food series I did through the Tour Alsace. If you’re interested in the food we eat while on tour make sure to check it out.

Continuing the heavy race block we had three Italian one-day races, all of which Rob Power won last year. Those results kinda thrust his name into the spotlight, because nothing like that had ever been done before. Unfortunately Rob crashed in the Nations Cup race and then had to pull out of Tour Alsace after the first stage because of a sore knee. After some scans and talking to many doctors he had to end his season along with Edmo who hurt his knee while away on track camp in Mexico.

The three one-day races went well. The first race was an Italian national race, Trofeo Sportivi Briga. I wanted to be quite active this race and try to get in the early break or just use it as a really good intense hit out. Being in the break meant I was quite fatigued when it came to the steep final climb. I ended up finishing somewhere in the top 15.

The next race was GP Poggiana, an U23 UCI race and possibly one of the hottest races I have done. Because of the heat I think a lot of riders struggled and the race split apart quickly.

Towards the end of the race there were two decent climbs. I tried to go away solo on both and got a gap each time, but was chased back by a small group of three each time on the flat. The reduced group become eight by the end and one rider broke clear and won solo. I finished fifth.

The last of the three races, GP di Capodarco, is probably the most famous of the three. I finished fourth there last year. The weather wasn’t kind to us this time around and it turned out be the wettest race I have ever done. We basically had a flash flood mid-race and the race had to be naturalised for a while because they ran out of ambulances. I got quite cold while the race was neutralised and my legs never came back to their best after that. I finished 13th.

I have just finished writing this on the drive from Italy to France. We’re here to ride some of the most important parts of the Tour de l’Avenir. The race starts on Saturday with a prologue and then there are seven road stages over the course of the next week. I will write about how it pans out in my next diary.

It’s amazing how quickly the end of the season approaches. GP di Capodarco was the last Italian U23 race I will ever do and now I only have two races left with the Jacyo-AIS World Tour Academy team: the Tour de L’Avenir and the Chrono des Nations time trial. That could turn into four races if I get selected for the World Championships road race and time trial in America. The teams get selected on the Sunday after L’Avenir finishes.

Thanks for reading!

Jack

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