Jack Haig arguably produced the performance of the day at the Tour of the Alps, and so had few regrets about being caught in the final kilometre of the opening stage around Rattenberg.
The Australian was caught and passed by the overall contenders and lost 24 seconds to stage winner and first race leader Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) but was happy to show he is on form for this week in the Austrian and Italian Alps and especially as the Giro d’Italia nears.
“I’m super happy with my performance, it’s only my second day down from altitude, and you never know how your body responds,” Haig told Cyclingnews beyond the finish line.
“I came here to race aggressively and treat every stage as a one-day race. I saw the opportunity to try something today, but I was 800 metres too short.”
Ineos Grenadiers set a ferocious pace on the painfully-steep Kerschbaumer Sattel climb with 17km to go, but Haig had the courage and strength to attack them close to the summit.
He was joined by Jeferson Cepada (EF Education-EasyPost) but then went clear alone again on the descent and for most of the final climb to the finish in Alpbach.
“I knew that Ineos had all the numbers on the climb and that if nobody did anything, we’d get to the valley, and they’d ride hard tempo to the line and even finish 1-2-3-4,” Haig explained.
“I tried to mix it up a little bit, and I was hoping that a few more people would come with me, to have three or four people over the top of the climb, which would have made the finish more interesting.”
Haig pushed on alone on the road to Alpbach, testing Ineos Grenadier’s strength in depth to the limit.
Geraint Thomas did a massive turn along the valley road, with Geoghegan Hart then producing a well-timed final effort to catch and pass Hugh Carthy in sight of the finish line.
Haig lost 24 seconds but is convinced that more aggressive racing can change the GC in the next four mountain stages.
“I’ll keep attacking every day, and if the GC happens too, then great,” he promised. “But we’ll race aggressively, and the GC will take care of itself. This is just the start.”
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