strong performance today on the opening stage of Ruta del Sol, fighting to fourth place, after a hard and hilly final 20kilometres.

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Fourth place for leader Haig on a hard opening stage in Ruta del Sol 

Wed 19 Feb 2020

Recent Volta Valencia runner-up Jack Haig put in a strong performance today on the opening stage of Ruta del Sol, fighting to fourth place, after a hard and hilly final 20kilometres.

Haig had teammate Andrey Zeits for company during the last first category climb, as he made his debut for Mitchelton-SCOTT today, however it was a strong attack from Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team), that animated the final kilometres of the race, with Fuglsang taking the stage honours.

Fast start
The 174kilometre race began at a furious pace which saw the peloton split for a brief moment, after three riders launched an attack.

Eventually, the breakaway of the day formed, swelling out to 11riders, and the sizeable group hovered around two-minutes in front as they headed over the multiple third category climbs on the stage menu. 

Attacks from the breakaway
With just under 40kilometres to go, three riders, Lammertink (CWG), Goossens (Lotto-Soudal) and Smit (Burgos-BH) jumped away from the original breakaway group, and the strong trio headed away, increasing their distance to over three-minutes over the peloton led by Mitchelton-SCOTT, Movistar Team and Bahrain-McLaren.

As the final and first main test of the tour approached, the escapee group swelled again with two more riders bridging across. 

However, as the road began to head north, the pace in the bunch increased and their advantage soon dropped down under one-minute, with the full catch being made with 16kilometres remaining.  

Final test
The climbing battle then began as the GC riders came to the fore, looking to test their legs and make their initial mark on the race.

The front group began to whittle down, leaving just 10 riders to try and chased down an attack by Landa and Fuglsang.

Zeits headed to the front of the group and set the pace, assisting team leader Haig, before Haig put in an attack himself over the top of the climb, in an attempt to close in on the two leaders.

In the end, the Australian crossed the line in fourth position, just 27seconds down on the stage winner Fuglsang and heads into tomorrow’s flatter stage in fourth place on the classification.

Jack Haig
“I felt really, really good on the climb but got a little bit out numbered there in the final by Bahrain-McLaren and Astana. They are obviously at this race with a lot of really strong climbers and there was quite a strong headwind on the top part of the final climb. I had Zeits there to help me but I just needed a little more firepower to be able to bring back Fuglsang and Landa.

"The good news is that the team is riding well, I am feeling good and I knew that only having one teammate left there at the top of the climb and with the strong headwind, I needed to leave my attack late for across the top and then try and make a good descent. 

“With maybe half a kilometre to go I made an attack and tried to descend down as fast as I could, but that final kick up just got me. It really swung round to the left and was incredibly steep.

“The guys did a really good job, we have a lot of guys here doing their first race of the season. Alex Konychev, who is doing just his second race with the team did a really good job, setting the pace and controlling the breakaway, and then Zeits was also quite strong towards the final.

"Now it is just about trying to build on today’s performance and go into the rest of the week and keep myself up there.”

 

2020 Ruta del Sol - Stage 1 Results:
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) 4:11:08
2. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) +0:06
3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-McLaren) +0:25
4. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:27

General Classification after stage 1:
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) 4:11:08
2. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) +0:06
3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-McLaren) +0:25
4. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:27

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

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