Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
LUCENA, Spain (VN) — Will a breakthrough podium at the Vuelta a España produce even bigger things in the Tour de France this summer?
Jack Haig is certainly hoping so.
“The goal is the Tour,” Haig told VeloNews. “I want to try to do my best and be as consistent as I can. I want to take the confidence from the Vuelta last year, and aim for a high GC position at the Tour.”
The Aussie rider on Bahrain Victorious is three days into his 2022 season debut at the Ruta del Sol.
Haig hit a new stride in 2021, and overcame a broken clavicle from a heavy crash in the first week of the Tour to join the small but growing club of Australian riders who’ve hit the podium of a grand tour.
From Andorra to the GC podium ambitions
Haig is cranking up his 2022 season in southern Spain on the perfect runway toward the goal of aiming for the Tour de France podium.
“I like to start my racing season down here,” he said at sign-in Friday. “The racing is normally is somewhat relaxed, the weather is good, and the roads are good.”
As much as his third-place Vuelta podium meant for Haig, he said things haven’t changed much behind the scenes.
He stayed in Andorra over the winter with his wife and newborn child. In fact, he calls Andorra home, and he hasn’t returned to Australia since 2015.
“I didn’t change much this winter,” he said. “I had a really nice off-season with the family.
“I did a training camp with the team in December, and I had a bit of sickness in January,” he said. “I never go back to Australia, last time I was there was at the end of 2015. That might change if I am selected for the worlds.
“I have nothing in Australia, and I have everything in Andorra. My wife is Spanish, we stay here. I have my apartment, my dog, my family. It’s home.”
Making his own luck in Vuelta breakout
If things are pretty settled for Haig on the home front, things have changed dramatically on the road.
In the wake of his career-first podium at the Vuelta with third place, Haig now brings more expectations and more pressure.
“I hope to build my condition across the spring just like I did last year,” he said, confirming he will race Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, and some of the Ardennes one-days in the spring.
“I’m trying to do the best I can in all the races, and from that, a good result can come,” he said. “Last year, I was good at Paris-Nice, and I was a bit better at Catalunya, and I think I would have been quite good at the Tour if I had not crashed.”
Haig crashed in the horrific opening week of the 2021 Tour, going down hard in stage 3. The impact broke his collarbone, and later complications of his recovery forced him to miss the Olympic Games.
Though disappointed, Haig turned the page and focused any would-be frustrations into the Vuelta.
It seems the Movistar(Sorreno)-Lopez fight will go on forever – this time Jack Haig is at the receiving end https://t.co/HobvTfvtd8
— Rounak Meyur (@RounakMeyur) February 17, 2022
Anger to the pedals soon turned fortune his way. Haig was banging on the door of the podium, and he finally broke through in the dramatic penultimate stage.
That day, Miguel Ángel López was gapped out under pressure from Haig and other attackers on the finally hilly, hard stage of the Vuelta.
A furious López later abandoned the race in anger and frustration, and later left Movistar to return to Astana-Qazaqstan.
For every door closed for one rider, it’s a new opportunity for another.
Haig made his own luck in the Vuelta last year, and he scored his career-first Vuelta podium.
“It means a lot,” Haig said. “It was super nice to get the result. I always dreamed of doing a podium in a grand tour, and to actually prove it to myself was really nice.”