RESPECT but don't be overawed by your opponent is exactly what Bendigo's Jack Haig has done in his past two cycling tours.
Young gun fires against highly-rated opponents
For years, Bendigo had prided itself on being the hub of cycling in this state
The 20-year-old is in a hot streak of form as he prepares for the Oceania road titles and a tilt at selection in the mountain bike team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Haig rode brilliantly to be third overall in the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour.
His feats for Avanti Cycling also earned the State Government of Victoria jersey for Best Young Rider in the long-running classic.
The young gun was Best Young Rider in the Tour Down Under raced in South Australia.
In both tours Haig pitted his endurance and mental toughness against far more seasoned professionals.
Friday's daring breakaway with Simon Clarke and Cameron Wurf as they climbed Mount Alexander in the Ballarat-Bendigo leg of the Jayco-backed tour was outstanding.
After they had raced along Pall Mall in the heart of Bendigo they had become the tour's top three.
The trio, captured by jxpphotography.com. at the tour end, withstood many challenges.
It was after Sunday's final stage at Arthurs Seat had been called off that Haig and many others in cycling showed plenty of class.
Victoria Police and tour organisers decided to abandon the tour finale as fires blazed across the state.
Although bitterly disappointed he could not try to wrest the tour lead from Clarke, Haig fully understood the reasons why there was no racing.
"The risk was just too great," Haig said of a stage in which the field was to traverse the Arthurs Seat climb on three occasions.
He had raced in Tasmania where a classic was abandoned because it was too cold and wet.
This was the first time a tour leg he had been in was not contested because of a fire threat.
"It was not easy racing in Friday's and Saturday's heat."
The cheers when he stood on the podium in his hometown made the effort so worthwhile.
"Racing is what I do, but it has to be as safe as possible for all the riders, support crews, all the others in the convoy, and the spectators."
It's been an incredible run throughout 2013-14 for Haig.
He won last year's Subaru-backed national road series and goes to Toowoomba later this month intent on strong performances in the under-23 time trial and road race at the Oceania titles.
For years, Bendigo had prided itself on being the hub of cycling in this state.
In recent weeks, Haig, Glenn O'Shea, Darren Lapthorne, Braeden Dean, Robbie Hucker and Beth Duryea have added to Bendigo's great run in cycling.
Barkers Creek's Lachlan Norris is another cycling ace who plays a key role with Lapthorne and Hucker in Drapac Pro Cycling's pursuit of success at home and abroad.