Haig goes it alone to claim mountain bike race

BENDIGO teenager Jack Haig made a dominant return to mountain biking on the weekend, claiming outright victory in the inaugural Twelve Apostles Mountain Bike Classic.

The 19-year old returned to the sport, in dominant fashion, from a three-month break.

He blew the field apart in the challenging fourth stage to take a near six-minute lead into the final leg on Sunday.

He said he didn't know what to expect heading into the three-day event, which was held around Peterborough, Port Campbell, Timboon and Princetown.

"I didn't know what I would be facing," he said.

" I know it's not a developed area for mountain biking so I was just looking forward to seeing some of the scenery and seeing how it would all play out."

Haig, who finished runner-up in the National Mountain Bike Championships earlier this year, said he knew that multiple world champions Adrian Jackson and Peter Kutchera would be his main competition.

"I knew my best chance would be to stick with them in the early stages, which were relatively flat, and then make my move in the tougher, hillier stages towards the end," he said.

"In the first leg on Friday, from Childers Cove to Peterborough, the three of us broke away early and had a sprint to the finish which Adrian won.

"I won the second stage, the town sprint in Port Campbell where I picked up a two-minute time bonus."

But it was the hilly and undulating stage four where Haig made his move, picking up a six-minute lead ahead of Jackson, with Kutchera a further four minutes behind.

"I broke away with about 20 kilometres to go," he said.

"I prefer that type of racing, it suits me better, so it was a bit of natural selection at work really."

He sealed the win in stage five on Sunday, where he again broke away with 15 kilometres to go, leaving Jackson and Kutchera to finish in second and third.

Haig said he could see a lot of potential in the event, which he hoped would become an annual fixture on the mountain bike calendar.

"It think as it begins to develop more, it will attract a lot of riders," he said.

"There is a lot of potential. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next year."

In the women's section, Peta Mullens took out the overall title.

Marketing co-ordinator Tom Nash said the organisers were thrilled with the event.

"We are over the moon. Stay tuned for the 2013 race date," he said.

jwoolley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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