Haig fights to fourth place on the opening stage of Ruta del Sol

Wed 20 Feb 2019

Australian Jack Haig had a strong performance today on the opening stage of Ruta del Sol, conquering the brutally steep final climb in Alcalá de los Gazules to cross the line with an impressive fourth place.

Mitchelton-SCOTT worked relentlessly throughout the stage to set things up for the climbers before the 1.2km climb with it’s 20% sections, cobble stones and an average gradient of 11%. In the end it was Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) who took the stage victory, a consecutive victory following on from his 2018 success on the same climb.  

Seven jump ahead

Shortly after leaving the start area in San Lucar, the hustle for the breakaway combination began and eventually after around 30km, seven-riders successfully got away and maintained a steady advantage of two minutes for the majority of the stage.

It was after the third category climb, L’Alto de Prado del Rey, when the chase really picked up behind, with Mitchelton-SCOTT riders working hard at the front of the peloton alongside Astana and Lotto-Soudal.

Setting things up for the final

Inside the final 40km almost all of the team, Simon Yates, Mikel Nieve, Edoardo Affini, Matteo Trentin and Esteban Chaves contributed to the chase, tirelessly riding on the front until the gap dropped back under one minute. Simon Yates continued to bury himself and with just 20km remaining the peloton was all back together again.

Battle for position

After the fairly straight forward day, the main challenge of the final steep kick up was fast approaching. The tension in the peloton increased with teams working to position their leaders, with Astana and Bahrain-Merida driving the pace on the front.

Two riders managed to jumped away with five kilometres to go but simply hovered ahead at 15seconds before quickly been drawn in again. European champion Trentin took over to do one final pull into the base of the climb and as the road headed north, riders quickly began to zig zag.

The main contenders started eyeing one another with Wellens proving to have the best legs on the day to claim the win. Haig battled all the way to the line and will head in to tomorrow’s second stage in fourth place at five seconds. 

Jack Haig

“To be honest I didn’t think the climb suited me being so steep but I was happy to be there. The guys did an awesome job today with the likes of Nieve and Esteban riding on the front and then also positioning into the bottom with Matteo, and even Esteban came back and did really good job into the last 1.5km when the climb started.

"Edoardo our neo-pro saved me out in the crosswinds and that was much appreciated. I am happy to get fourth but to be so close to second was a bit disappointing but fourth is still a good result."

Edoardo Affini

“I did what I could today, there was a uncategorised climb that was harder than it looked on the profile and I think I probably did my maximum two minutes power on that. Then I was completely finished but I saw Esteban and Jack and told them to come with me. 

“We saw the climb before on our January camp so a lot of us knew what was coming.”

Ruta del Sol - Stage 1 Results:

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudaly) 4:24:12
2. Jakob Fugslang (Astana) +0:05
3. Ion Izagirre (Astana) ST
4. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Ruta del Sol - General Classification after Stage 1:

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudaly) 4:24:12
2. Jakob Fugslang (Astana) +0:05
3. Ion Izagirre (Astana) ST
4. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Photos courtesy of Getty Images