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Throughout this year’s Tour de France we’ll be hearing regularly from Aussie climber Jack Haig. It’s been an up and down season for Haig so far. He’s posted some of the best and most promising results of his young career, but he’s also had his year disrupted by a frustrating knee injury. Now, as he writes in the following diary post, he’s about to line up for his first Tour de France.
The first emotion I felt after getting selected for my debut Tour de France was relief, to be honest. A knee injury after Paris-Nice kept me out of the Giro, which was meant to be my first major goal for the season. I ended up having to take almost three weeks off the bike to figure out what was wrong. My race program got completely changed and it all depended on how well I came back to fitness and racing.
I worked really hard to show myself at the Dauphine, to try and make the Tour team and it wasn’t until a couple days after the Dauphine finished that I got the official call-up. After the relief of knowing I could come back at a good level of fitness, I’m really excited to take part in my first TDF with the team. I think we have a great team this year, especially with Adam Yates having a great build up so far towards the Tour.
I’ve now competed in four Grand Tours in my four years as a professional – three Vueltas and one Giro. Everyone tells you how different the Tour is compared to every other race you do during the year, but I probably can’t tell you if my preparation is adequate until I’m in the TDF ‘bubble’ and I’ve done a couple of stages.
The gradual progression in my life up to this moment [racing the Tour] kind of makes it feel anticlimactic, but at the same time it doesn’t. I have done quite a bit of racing now as a pro and slowly progressed results-wise but the Tour is the Tour. It’s the biggest race in the world and the biggest annual sporting event in the world and I don’t think I will know how special or different it is until I’m there.
I’m certainly more excited than if I was going to another Giro or Vuelta. I’m going into it with a very open mind and the mindset of trying to stay relaxed and not get caught up in the Tour hype. But that might be easier to say than do.
The knee injury was quite frustrating, I never found out exactly what was wrong but thankfully it just went away with recovery. Now I have no lingering effects at all — it’s back to a fully functioning normal knee.
The injury meant that the lead-up to the Tour has been quite different to the other Grand Tours I’ve done. I hadn’t raced as much as I would have liked and having quite a bit of time off in the middle of the season before a big goal is quite different. But in terms of the day-to-day training, it’s the same as every other race. Maybe I have done more altitude camps than I would have done before, but that was also because I wanted to try and speed up my return to a high level of fitness after the time off.
On paper, the Dauphine was the hardest race I’ve done this year. Let’s look at the numbers:
– 8 days
– 33 hours 51 minutes on the bike
– 1,251 km (this includes an ITT so not all days were four-hour-plus road stages)
– 2,086 TSS (see Glossary below)
– 29,954 kJ
The week after the Dauphine was a bit of a recovery week and I also went up to altitude (2,000m) in Andorra.
The week of June 24-30 was a training week and I was still at altitude every night. Throughout the week I did a combination of some long climbs behind the scooter to simulate racing and some TT work including a TTT training day with six of the guys doing the Tour.
This week before the Tour is about quite easy training up until the sixth when the race starts. Maybe we’ll do one hard day and one TTT training day in Brussels.
Adam Yates will be our leader for the Tour. Up until now I’ve typically ridden for Simon Yates and his overall GC position, but not that much with Adam. But I know him well enough to know that they’re quite similar. I raced Dauphine with Adam, but I was in the break for three of the seven road stages so didn’t really ‘work’ with or for him.
Adam takes a very no-stress approach, not really wanting to get in the fight for positioning and has fewer problems sitting towards the back of the group.
Simon will be on the Tour team also, riding in support of Adam. The team did a very similar thing last year at the Vuelta (but with Adam riding for Simon) and I think they work very well together. At the end of the day, they are twins and they do get along with each other quite well. They know more or less what the other wants or needs in the race.
I also know that Simon is 100% there to help his brother Adam. If the opportunity comes up to get in a breakaway and go for a stage win, I’m sure he’d take it, but he’s not going there with any GC ambitions.
What does a successful Tour look like for me? It means finishing without any major problems along the way, trying my best to help the team and Adam as well as I can, while also taking any opportunities that come my way. Whether that’s making it into a break and trying for a stage win or being able to help Adam in a decisive moment in the race.
For the team, I think a top three or top five on GC and a stage win would be a successful Tour. I would love the opportunity to fight it out in a breakaway for a stage win, but that’s not my first goal going into the race. Adam’s GC will always come first.
I’ll speak to you again in a few days after the Grand Depart!
Glossary of terms
*TSS: Training stress score. A measure of how long and how hard an athlete trained for. A TSS of 100 is earned through a one-hour, all-out workout.
CTL: Chronic training load. A measure of your fitness.
ATL: Acute training load. A measure of your fatigue.
TSB: Training stress balance. A measure of your form.
For more information on all of these measures, head over to the TrainerRoad website.