Haig fights to 5th place & moves to 2nd overall on the first uphill finish at Volta ValenciaThu 6 Feb 2020
Australian climber Jack Haig showed some early season form today, climbing amongst the race favourites to fifth place, on the first steep hill top finish in Cullera.
The short, two-kilometre ramp saw the peloton shatter, with Haig biding his time in an ever reducing front group, surfing the wheels in the final kilometre, before powering into fifth place behind the stage winner Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates).
The Mitchelton-SCOTT rider now sits in second place overall behind the new race leader Pogacar, and with no time bonuses awarded to the riders on the finish line, the top nine riders all sit on the same time heading into tomorrow's third stage.
Five Out To Five Minutes
Within the opening kilometres of the 181km second stage, the peloton allowed five riders to jump away and ride out to a solid advantage of five and a half minutes.
Various individuals tried to bridge across, but non were able to make the junction and the five leaders, Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Jos van Emden (Team Jumbo-Visma), Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team) Alvaro Cuadros (Caja-Rural) and Hector Sáes (Caja-Rural) settled into their rhythm ahead.
Steep Final Test
It wasn't until the final 30kilometres of the stage when the breakaway's time gap really diminished as the peloton barrelled closer and closer to the final test, a steep, two-kilometre uphill climb.
The terrain was open and exposed and the main GC teams headed to the front and quickly reeled back three of the remaining four leaders. Cavagan took a chance and attacked away and was able to maintaining some distance in front as he closed in on the final climb.
Mitchelton-SCOTT fought to keep good position near the front of the bunch in an attempt to keep Haig in strong contention and successfully led the Australian into the base of the final climb.
The peloton exploded, as expected, once the road headed north, with Haig showing maturity to keep his own pace as the line drew closer.
Around the final corner, Haig moved up positions and tried to follow an acceleration before crossing the line in fifth place on the same time as the winner.
"The climb was actually not as hard as I expected looking at the profile before the stage, the road surface was good and it was quite fast. The guys did an amazing job to put me into position at the bottom which made the climb a little bit easier. They all looked after me very well today especially within the last 20-30kilometre when we were riding through the flatter, more exposed sections.
"I tried to pace the climb well, I knew it would be between a five to six minute effort and I knew if I went too deep at the beginning then I would really suffer at the end in the critical moment on the climb, the last 800metres.
"I should have probably been in the big chainring for the last 120metres of the climb when Pogacar and Valverde made an acceleration. I tried to go with them and I didn't have enough gears, that was a little bit annoying but it definitely gives me a lot of confidence.
"I came into this race not really knowing how my fitness was after having such a long winter, and it is hard to get a good feeling of how you are going training in the cold in Andorra, so I can take confidence from today."
Dave McPartland - Sport Director
"It was a great ride by Jack, it is always unknown how the legs will be in the first race and the short climbs maybe don't suit him as much as the longer climbs, but that is even more reason to be happy with today, he has shown he has good form and there's really good signs for the goals coming.
"He is into second overall now as there are no time bonuses awarded on the finish line, you would expected on the longer climb on stage four there could big some big time gaps, but if it is anything like today with five or six guys crossing the line almost all together then that leaves him in a good position and he can have confidence for the coming days."
2020 Volta Valencia - Stage 2 Results:
1. Tadej Pogacar ((UAE-Team Emirates) 4:14:26
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) ST
3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain McClaren) ST
5. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
2020 Volta Valencia - General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Tadej Pogacar ((UAE-Team Emirates) 8:22:09
2. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) ST
4. Ruben Fernandez (Fundacion-Orbea) ST
5. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain McClaren) ST
Photos courtesy of Getty Images