JACK HAIG : ORICA-SCOTT
Our latest featured rider is yet another Australian Girona based young talent, Jack Haig. Jack, now only 23, joined the Orica Scott squad in 2016 following a very impressive run as an U23 rider, finishing second overall at the 2015 Tour de lÁvenir and the 2014 best young rider at the World tour, Tour down Under. Jack impressed greatly in his first official season with the squad, steadily building his strengths and abilities in the hills. He concluded his season with a successful performance and completion of his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana.
Jack is now well into the 2017 season and off to a great start with plenty more to come. A Tour de France prospect, we predict! Here, Jack has kindly shared some words on how he thinks you should best tackle the Els Àngels hill climb. Thanks Jack and all the best for the remainder of the season!
With the Girona cycling festival coming up and especially the Els Àngels hill climb, I thought I would share some useful insights into the climb, but also how to try and tackle the race.
One of the best ways to analyse a climb if you can’t ride it in the lead up to the event is to have a look on Strava. This can really help give you an idea of what the climb is like if you’ve never ridden it. It can also give you a ball park idea of what kind of time you might do. The climb on Strava is 10.1km at a 3% average grade (STRAVA SEGMENT) slightly shorter than the Girona Cycling Festival distance of 10.4km, but not by much.
Here are a couple of ideas on how to best ride the climb:
• The first one is simple but easily forgotten …pace yourself! There is nothing worse than getting excited at the start and pushing way too hard and then blowing up towards the end.
• If you have a power meter or even a heart rate monitor, make sure you have a rough idea about what numbers you can hold for the duration of the climb. However, it is very important to not solely focus on the numbers!
• Remember, the fastest time is the one with the highest average speed, so it´s all about carrying momentum. There is no point in pushing really hard in a steep section if when you reach the top you have to sit up and freewheel and your speed drops. Always save a little bit on the steep section to push as you crest the rise. Push to bring your speed up before, and then rest a little. This is where a lot of time can be made up.
• The middle section of the climb can be quite fast so remember to get aero. It’s amazing how much of a difference this can make, especially when the speed is high.
• It’s a hill climb so weight is important. Simple things like starting with just enough water for the climb instead of carrying two full bottles will help a lot.
Let’s break the climb down a little…at first, a 3% average grade doesn’t look too bad at all, but the climb is quite varying and can be broken down into three different sections, which can also be found on Strava:
The first section (https://www.strava.com/segments/2420764) is the longest at 4.2km and the steepest with an average grade of 5%. This section is the most important to pace, because you will probably be feeling great and it’s very easy to go too hard here. Just keep in mind that the next section is a little bit flatter and can be used as a tiny bit of recovery. So you can probably push a little bit on this section. Focus on pushing a little on the steeper section. As mentioned above, at the crest of the climb you should build speed, however always keep in the back of your mind that the climb is long.
The middle section (https://www.strava.com/segments/2420773) is the fastest and flattest at 3.1km and averaging only 1%. This section can be used a little bit as recovery, but not too much. Recover on the fastest sections and on the corners. In this part of the climb it’s important to be smooth, focusing on trying to carry speed though corners. Something I repeat to myself during technical parts of time trials is ‘smooth is fast’. There’s no point in sprinting out of a corner if as soon as you sit down you need to brake hard for the next corner. Be smooth and don’t waste energy. Also, don’t forget to get aero in this section – it will help a lot.
The final section (https://www.strava.com/segments/2420781). This one is going to hurt! It is the final push and where you will find out how well you’ve paced yourself. This section is 3.6km at 4%, but there are actually some quite steep parts, but also some areas where you can take some recovery. Like in the first section, it’s important to keep the speed up on the steeper parts, but especially as you crest to carry speed into the next part.