Australia’s Jack Haig is on the verge of a breakthrough podium finish in cycling’s Vuelta a Espana, the last of the year’s three grand tours.
Haig moved up to third position in the overall standings with one stage remaining after a strong performance on stage 20, a gruelling 202.2-kilometre leg from Sanxenxo to Mos. Castro de Herville containing five categorised climbs.
Haig (Bahrain Victorious) finished fifth on the stage, just 12 seconds behind French winner Clement Champoussin.
Forced out of the Tour de France – and the Olympics – when he suffered a broken collarbone in a stage-three crash, Haig now has the chance to sign off his season in grand style.
It's the final stage of La Vuelta and every second counts in the GC battle as the contenders battle for vital time in the 33.8km time trial
— CyclingCentral (@CyclingCentral) September 5, 2021
Slovenian star Primoz Roglic has all but wrapped up the race title but 27-year-old Haig will be hell bent on clinching a podium spot in the race’s closing 33.8-kilometre time-trial on Sunday (Monday AEST).
The Queenslander goes into it four minutes and 48 seconds behind leader Roglic and two minutes 10 seconds behind second-placed Enrique Mas Nicolau of Spain.
Perhaps more importantly, he has a one-minute gap ahead of fourth-placed Briton Adam Yates while his Bahrain Victorious teammate Gino Mader is a further two minutes 26 seconds behind in fifth.
“It’s a nice position to be in, but it’s definitely not safe and done,” Haig told cyclingnews.com.
If Haig can hold onto third place, it will cap a good year in general classification on the grand tours for Australia after his young countryman Ben O’Connor finished fourth in the Tour de France and also won a stage.