Sometimes, it is difficult to tell who has impressed more during Simon Yates’ week atop the general classification of the Giro d’Italia, the maglia rosa himself or Jack Haig, the man who has shepherded him so well every time the road climbs.
When Yates claimed victory atop Gran Sasso d’Italia on Sunday, it was Haig’s stint of pace-making that saw off Chris Froome (Team Sky) as the dwindling front group snaked towards the summit on snow-banked roads. When Yates bounded to take the explosive finale in Osimo on Tuesday, it was Haig who brought order to affairs by closing down late escapees Zdenek Stybar and Tim Wellens.
“It is a little bit of a surprise, but I have been working incredibly hard over the last couple of years and it’s nice to see it pay off the way it is at the moment,” Haig said in Osimo on Thursday morning.
“The best day was either yesterday [stage 11] or the Gran Sasso. Both days were pretty amazing. It’s really rewarding to be that last key person to make that last big effort before Simon does his thing. To have Simon finish it off with wins was great.”
Still only 23 years of age, Haig is making his Giro debut after two previous outings at the Vuelta a España, and he has performed with assurance ever since the race left Israel two weeks ago. Before the race began, Mikel Nieve or Roman Kreuziger might have been expected to be Mitchelton-Scott‘s most prominent mountain domestiques. Instead, at each major rendezvous, Haig has been the best supporting actor in the cast, though there is, he says, no fixed order for the roster of climbers setting the tempo on behalf of Yates.
“It’s just naturally developed that way during the racing,” Haig said. “It’s just whoever has the legs on the day. We talk amongst ourselves and there are no real egos on our team to get in the way. Everybody is honest and says if they’re on a good one or a bad one, and then we manoeuvre depending on that.”
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