Bendigo’s Jack Haig is fast establishing himself as one of the most valuable riders in world cycling.
Haig’s performance for the Mitchelton-Scott team at the Giro d’Italia has earned high praise across the cycling industry.
The former Bendigo Senior Secondary College student has overcome a crash on day one to help guide team-mate Simon Yates to a commanding 56-second lead with four stages remaining.
Haig, who is in 31st place himself in the general classification, has done a power of work for Yates as Mitchelton-Scott chases its first grand tour victory.
“Jack has been the number one man for Simon Yates when the stages have got hard,” Olympic gold medalist and leading cycling commentator Scott McGrory said.
“Every time on this tour that Simon Yates has needed someone to help him, Jack has stepped up and done his job in fantastic style.
“Jack has gone to a level that shows he has real potential to one day go on and win these races himself rather than be a helper.”
McGrory said Haig’s determination to be one of the best riders in the world had helped him take his performances to the next level
“Jack didn’t come home in the off-season… he stayed in Andorra and did a lot of cross-country skiing to keep himself fit,” McGrory said.
“He lived at altitude in Andorra to keep fit rather than coming home. That included the terrible period in his life when his great mate Jason Lowndes passed away.
“I know he was disappointed not to come back for Jason’s funeral, but that was part of the sacrifice he’s made to be the best he can be.
“Jack is a really nice guy, but he also has this dogged determination inside of him to make sure he becomes a champion in the future.”
Bendigo’s Chris Hamilton (BSSC Class of 2013) and Zak Dempster are also making their Giro d’Italia debut.
Hamilton is 113th and Dempster is 135th, but those rankings are not a true reflection of the roles they’ve played in their respective teams.
“Chris is an unsung hero because he’s done a lot of work for (second-placed) Tom Dumoulin,” McGrory said.
“Zak has done a lot of work as well, but his team probably hasn’t had the tour it was hoping for.
“To have three of the seven Australians in the race from our region is inspiring.
“It shows the next group of riders coming through that becoming a professional cyclist is not far away if you work hard.”