A fight to 5th place for Haig on the Queen stage in Volta Valenica as he moves to 2nd overallSat 8 Feb 2020
Australian climber Jack Haig fought his way to fifth place today on what was a brutally steep final climb for the fourth and Queen stage in Volta Valencia.
Starting the day as the race leader, Haig had it all to fight for and crossed the line in fifth position on the same time as other race favourites. It was Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) who stole the show, attacking away solo to claim the stage victory and steal back the race leader's jersey from the shoulders of the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider.
Haig's strong stage placing saw him hang on for second place overall, and he now heads into tomorrow's final stage just six seconds down on the race leader.
Controlling The Breakaway
A group of six-riders jumped away from the peloton early on in the stage, as Mitchleton-SCOTT, with the help of UAE Team Emirates, lead the steady chase, keeping the distance to the leaders constantly around three minutes.
After barrelling over four of the five categorised climbs on the day's menu, the distance to the six leaders naturally began to drop and finally the gap dipped inside one-minute as they entered the final 20kilometres.
The Battle To The Summit
Mitchelton-SCOTT continued at the head of the bunch, setting a fierce pace to deliver Haig in a good position to the base of the steep final five kilometre climb.
Three of the original breakaway riders continued on ahead of the reducing main bunch, with Greg van Avermaert (CCC Team) making it hard for the GC riders, by attacking away from the group and leading solo into the final three kilometres.
Directly after Van Avermaert was swallowed up on one of the steepest sections of the climb, Pogacar attacked away at a furious pace with nobody able to follow.
With gradience reaching 22percent, the front group continued to shatter with time gaps opening up. Haig continued to push on with every peddal stroke, crossing the line in good company just six seconds down on the stage winner.
Jack Haig - 2nd Place Overall
“The guys did a great job again, it’s been one of the best performances I’ve seen by the team with the full team committed to the leader, all week they've done an amazing job. They took up riding at the front and controlled the breakaway keeping them around two and a half to three minutes then coming into the climb some of the other teams increased the pace too.
"It was hard today, all day, there was no real respite both with the pace and the terrain. Coming into the last five kilometres, the guys placed me in great position and from then on I just slotted in behind the Team Ineos riders and tried to ride my own pace up the climb, knowing it was such as steep climb.
"Pogacar was just on another level, we saw today that he was the best rider by quite some way, nobody else could follow him. To be in that group that finished on the same time from second to fifth was really good.
"There's no time bonuses but hopefully with no problems I should hold onto second place if I can finish in the top half of the peloton it sould be fine."
Dave McPartland - Sport Director
"The guys set Jack up perfectly, they had everything under control all day, keeping him in position plus putting him into position for the bottom of the climb and there wasn't really anything else he could have done.
"Jack just came up against a better bike rider on the day. Pogacar is on super form at the moment so Jack has done super well to finish in that group and he can be happy with his ride today. Tomorrow looks like another sprint finish so it will be hard to get time back, especially without any time bonuses up for grabs. We will just try to get Haig into the highest finishing position.
"This whole week we've had a clear plan in place each day and the guys have followed that really well and looking to the races coming up it has been a good race to start with and prepare and everyones on the right track."
2020 Volta Valencia - Stage 4 Results:
1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 4:22:03
2. Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren) +0:06
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) ST
5. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
2020 Volta Valencia - General Classification after Stage 4:
1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 16:38:28
2. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:06
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) ST
Photos courtesy of Getty Images