NORTH Bendigo's Jack Haig is third in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour's top five after Friday's brilliant ride in the Ballarat to Bendigo leg of the cycling classic.
Bendigo's young star shines on tour's gruelling climbs
Haig teamed with Orica-GreenEDGE's Simon Clarke and Connondale's Cameron Wurf in a winning breakaway.
It was Clarke and Wurf who outsprinted Haig on Pall Mall, but Bendigo's rising star was rapt.
Just days after being named the Best Young Rider in the Tour Down Under in South Australia, Haig, 20, has continued to shine against a world-class field.
"My confidence has grown a lot since the start of the Tour Down Under," Haig said after the 163km trek in Friday's heat.
"I am feeling a lot more confident within the bunch and not as daunted by racing some of cycling's biggest names," Haig said of being in a peloton that includes Simon Gerrans, Simon Clarke, Nathan Haas, and Eaglehawk's own world track champion, Glenn O'Shea.
Third placing in the tour's longest stage has put him in the lead for the Best Young Rider in this classic.
As the field fractured on the climb at Mount Alexander, it was Haig, Clarke and Wurf who broke away from the small leading pack.
"This stage was incredibly hard. We worked well together," Haig said of being in the attack with Clarke and Wurf.
"I was struggling toward the finish, and Simon and Cameron are both really strong.
"The goal became to stay with them, and gain some time."
As they line up at Mitchelton Winery on Saturday morning, Haig is third overall and 11 seconds behind Clarke.
O'Shea is eighth overall at -1.23, with Drapac team-mates Lachlan Norris and Darren Lapthorne in 12th and 18th places at -1.28 and 1-31.
Horsham's Mark O'Brien is 28th overall.