Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) finishing stage 20 of the Vuelta a España, during which he moved up to 3rd overall.

Jack Haig says the results come when you have ‘the right people’ around you

After finishing a career-topping third overall at the Vuelta, Jack Haig won't be changing his approach to racing any time soon.

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At the end of three hot, hard and fast weeks of racing through Spain, Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) climbed onto the Vuelta a Espana podium on Sunday night, taking the first Grand Tour GC podium of his career.

“Its incredible,” Haig said after the stage 21 ITT, in which he finished 17th. “I was just speaking to my wife saying how you always dream of getting on a podium at a Grand Tour, but I really never knew it was possible or not.”

The final GC podium of the 2021 Vuelta a España: red jersey winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) flanked by Enric Mas (Movistar) and Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious).

The Australian – and former CyclingTips diarist – turned pro with Gerry Ryan’s GreenEdge outfit in 2016. He showed his GC potential in June of that same year by finishing second at the Tour of Slovenia, before racing his first Grand Tour in Spain. In the years that followed, he won a stage each at the 2017 Tour of Poland and 2020 Ruta del Sol, while continuing to hone his GC craft at some of the biggest races on the planet.

After five years with the Australian team, the 27-year-old made the surprise move to Bahrain-Victorious in time for the 2021 season. With his new teammates, he scored seventh overall at Paris-Nice and fifth at the Critérium du Dauphiné in the lead-up to the Tour de France, where he would take a leadership role. However, that dream ended in a high speed crash near the end of stage 3.

At first, Haig’s injuries looked likely to rule him out for most of the remainder of 2021, but though his Olympic dream had to be shelved for a few years, the Vuelta a España became a possibility as his recovery went better than expected. The Spanish Grand Tour would be his first race back after crashing out of the Tour, so the Australian headed to Burgos initially to support his teammate Mikel Landa.

“It’s amazing to move to Bahrain Victorious and then having the crash at Tour, and come here with no expectations, and be third on the podium,” Haig said. “I have no words for it, and I want to thank everyone who got me here as it doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s not just a year’s work and there are so many people I’d like to thank along the way that helped me.”

Gino Mäder, Jack Haig and Mark Padun of Bahrain-Victorious lead the red jersey group during the decisive stage 20.

Haig’s Vuelta success story was not a fluke – far from it. He was attentive to the moves that mattered, poker-faced among his fellow GC riders, and once Landa dropped out of contention, he was cool as the figurehead of a team that played a key role in animating the race (see stage 20). Haig looked every bit the Grand Tour contender.

“I will keep approaching racing the way I do,” Haig promised, “as long as I’m happy with the right people around me and enjoy it. If you’ve got that, then the results come, and I couldn’t be happier.”

One of many promising GC talents hailing from the Land Down Under, Haig is the first Australian to make the Vuelta podium since Cadel Evans in 2009.

“He messaged me yesterday, to congratulate me on my ride and wish me luck for today, I have a bit of contact with him,” Haig said of his compatriot Cadel Evans. “I’d like to thank everyone in Australia who stayed up to support me and hopefully more things can come. Cadel went on to do amazing things after his Vuelta podium and if I can do even half of what he did, I’d be very satisfied.”

Team Bahrain-Victorious got to climb onto the final podium of the 2021 Vuelta a España as winners of the overall team classification.

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