Jack Haig, guest of the week at Cafe Roubaix
One of the most promising neo-pros expected to shine in 2016 is Jack Haig, whose impending debut in the World Tour is heralded by some very strong results he got as an amateur during the previous season in such races as Tour Down Under, Giro della Valle d’Aosta, Tour Alsace and Tour de l’Avenir. In the latter of the these, the now 22-year-old was the leader of Australia’s national team and put on a steady performance in the mountains, which netted him a second place in the overall standings, just 1:09 behind the winner, Spain’s and Movistar’s Marc Soler, a cyclist who was already accustomed to the World Tour level and rigors.
A very consistent, perseverant and hard working rider, Jack Haig climbed steadily through the ranks on the road since making the transition from mountain biking and proved to have the all-round ability to land a big win as a pro in a one-day race or a Grand Tour. After racing with Avanti Racing and the AIS World Tour Academy during his tenure as an U23 cyclist, he made the natural step of inking a contract with Orica-GreenEdge, a team which proved since its inception in 2012 that has a special flair when it comes to the development of young riders.
Following his first training camp with Orica-GreenEdge, in Canberra, Jack Haig sat down and talked for Cafe Roubaix about his up-and-down 2015 season, the improvements he’s made and his expectations ahead of his maiden World Tour year, which will see him being based in Girona and getting the taste of some of the calendar’s best and most prestigious races.
– Jack, after a very good 2014, this year you faced many injuries, despite having a strong start to the season. How did you manage to get over all these setbacks?
I was on some good form in the Australian Summer with a seventh place in a stage of Tour Down Under, but I crashed in the Cadel Evans Road Race and broke my elbow. This was one of the setbacks I had this year and probably the worst, but I think I have learnt from all of them during this season and it has probably made me a more prepared rider going into the World Tour next year. Because, and there’s no doubt about it, I will have similar setbacks at some point of my career.
– Another disappointment was Liège–Bastogne–Liège, where you were very strong, but missed on a good result after the group you were in went in the wrong direction.
Yes, it was quite frustrating to have that happen, I believe I would have had a decent chance of getting a decent result. But sometimes these things happen and I got over it quite quickly and looked forward to the next race.
– On the other hand, you came second in the Tour de l’Avenir, which was a huge result.
It’s probably one of the biggest results I have had and I believe I raced it quite well. I felt like I was getting better as the race was going on and to be so consistent in stage finishes was good as well. I really liked Tour de l’Avenir, I think it was better organised than last year. It’s also one of the few stage races that we do that really suits me.
– Did this result make up for all the not so pleasant moments you experienced up until that point?
For sure, I was really pleased to get the result. It gives me confidence going into the World Tour next year that I am a quality rider and hopefully ready to take that setup.
– Were you sad not to land a victory throughout the year?
I would have really liked to get a win and throw my hands up, but hopefully that will come next year in an even bigger race than we where racing this season.
– How was living in Italy?
I actually really enjoyed living in Italy and the people and language as well. Another thing I were enjoyed the training and some of views from the top of mountains looking down onto the lakes in that area. Must say I also liked the Italian one-day races I did, only problem is that I don’t have much of a sprint on me, so I found it hard to get a result there. It’s something I want to try and work on, having that little kick at the end of a hard race.
– Overall, which was the toughest race you did in the whole 2015 season?
Probably Tour de l’Avenir. I had a couple of really hard days where I wasn’t feeling too good in the middle of the race and it was really hard to keep pushing through them.
– I know you worked on your time trial in the past year. Are you happy with how things went?
Yes, I think I did a really good Chrono Champenois just before the World Championships and was a little disappointed that I didn’t get selected for the Richmond ITT. I improved a lot my time trial in 2015, a trained a lot for it, became more consistent and I have learnt many things about my body this year and how to get the most out of it.
– Next season we will see you in the pro peloton, riding for Orica-GreenEdge. What does this step mean for you?
Getting to the World Tour it’s kind of something that you dream of, so to make it there means a lot in itself. I really just want to take the first year as a learning year and hopefully set myself up for a long successfully career. I will keep enjoying my bike and maybe get a result or two. But I will not stress about results, because I know they will come as long as I am smart, have fun and work hard.
– Do you know some of the races you’ll do?
I will start of with the road race at the National Championships, and continue with the Cadel Evans Road Race and Herald Sun Tour (ed. – a race which he finished third in 2014). After that I will head to South Africa to do a training camp with the team. Then, my race calendar can change depending on how I am going with the setup to the World Tour level.