The Tour of the Alps has consecrated many riders in its young history, from Geraint Thomas and Thibaut Pinot to Egan Bernal and Tao Geoghegan Hart. The Euroregional race has represented a pivotal moment for the careers of some of the big names in international cycling, by giving them the setting and the exposure to complete the transition from rising prospect to cycling star.
Jack Haig will take part in the upcoming Tour of the Alps (April 17-21) with a big goal: to make his final qualitative leap. The 29-year-old from Australia is a climber with an international reputation, as proven by his third place overall at the 2021 Vuelta a España. All of this led to the expectation that Haig would continue along this path during the 2022 season, but the Bahrain Victorious athlete crashed on the Tour de France’s cobbled stage and suffered a season-ending broken wrist.
The athlete, born in Bendigo, Australia, has changed his program for the 2023 season by taking aim at the springtime stage races: the Tour of the Alps and the Giro d’Italia, where he will start as the Bahrain Victorious leader.
“I have spoken with other riders that have raced the Tour of the Alps, and everyone speaks highly of the race, and that it's a very nice but hard five days of racing. I believe the Tour of the Alps is the perfect race to face leading up to the Giro d'Italia,” said Jack Haig.
Haig can boast a string of good results in one-week stage races (two top-5 finishes at the Criterium du Dauphine and a fourth place at Paris-Nice). However, the Australian rider has competed less on the roads of Trentino, Südtirol/Alto Adige, and Tirol.
“To be honest I haven't spent very much time in Austria and a lot of the race will be on new roads and climbs I've never done. The only other time I think I've raced in Austria is for the world championships in Innsbruck a couple years ago. I haven’t looked too closely at the stages yet, but I will spend some time looking over the maps and stage profiles.”
“I enjoy hard, short-stage races. Hopefully, I can say the same about the Tour of the Alps. The only thing that worries me a little bit is the potential for bad or cold weather. I normally perform poorly in these conditions."
Haig will face the Euroregional stage race together with three athletes who know the routes well: Trentino’s Edoardo Zambanini, and two Austrian riders, veteran racer Hermann Pernsteiner, and the younger rider, Rainer Kepplinger. In addition, Team Bahrain Victorious will line up Santiago Buitrago. The 23-year-old Colombian rider is a talented climber, which he proved last season at the Tour of the Alps before winning the Trentino stage of the 2022 Giro d’Italia in Lavarone.
“Santiago is a very big talent with a lot of potential and I'm hoping he can make another show of himself this year. I think the Tour of the Alps could be the perfect race to demonstrate that he's well-prepared and ready for the Giro. I'm sure we will see him climbing very well on some of the hard stages; he will be a very important teammate for me and will be someone that we can use to try some aggressive tactics with during the Tour of the Alps and the Giro d’Italia,” concluded Haig.
TRINITY RACING ROUNDS OUT THE TOUR OF THE ALPS START LIST
Trinity Racing will be the 19th team at the start of the Tour of the Alps’ opening stage, on Monday, April 17th. The British squad rounded out the list of teams, which was announced at the Innsbruck press conference in January.
In the past few years, Trinity Racing has launched many talented riders at the international level, starting with Tom Pidcock, cycling’s multidiscipline star who won the gold medal in the Olympic mountain bike event in Tokyo in 2021, the cyclocross world title in 2022, and the Strade Bianche at the beginning of the 2023 season.