Bahrain-Victorious targets Tour de France podium with Jack Haig, Damiano Caruso

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This article originally appeared on Velo News

Bahrain-Victorious is setting the bar high for the Tour de France.

Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso will be on a mission to take the team’s first Tour de France top-three while Matej Mohoric and Dylan Teuns scrap for stages.

"Our goal is to take the team's first podium at the Tour de France, which we narrowly missed out on with Mikel Landa back in 2020,” team sport director Gorazd Stangelj said in a team release Friday.

Bahrain-Victorious put both Landa and Pello Bilbao into the top-five of the Giro d’Italia last month. The Basque pair will sit out the Tour in preparation for the Vuelta a Espana later this summer.

Instead, Jan Tratnik, Kamil Gradek, Fred Wright, and Luis Leon Sanchez complete Bahrain-Victorious’s Tour selection. Rising Swiss star Gino Mader didn’t make the list after struggling to shake a recent bout of COVID-19.

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Haig hit the podium of last year’s Vuelta after crashing out of the Tour, and will go to the grand depart hot after finishing fifth at the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month.

"I'm feeling really good coming into the Tour and maybe a little more relaxed this year than last year. Last year I went into the race with a lot of pressure on myself and to prove to my new team that I could perform,” he said.

“This year I feel much more comfortable in the team alongside the group of riders we have going into the Tour, so I've not got much to be nervous about.”

Haig will dovetail with Sicilian veteran Caruso. The 34-year-old landed a career-best grand tour podium finish at last year’s Giro d’Italia and goes to the Tour in form after finishing fourth in the Dauphine.

“For my personal ambitions, I want to go well in the GC, and if I get a top-five finish by the end of the Tour, I'd be quite happy,” Haig said.

Mohoric eyes possibilities on the pave

Mohoric scored in two of the toughest stages of last year’s Tour.

The big-motored Slovenian won the 250km Le Creusot marathon in the race’s opening week and went solo from an elite group to win in Libourne two weeks later.

Mohoric now has eyes on the cobbled roads of northeastern France after finishing fifth at Paris-Roubaix earlier in the year.

“My goal in this year's Tour is to try and win a stage again. My favorite stage will be stage 5 with the finish at Arenberg forest. I was the first rider to enter it at Paris-Roubaix, so my dream is to be the first there again in July,” Mohoric said Friday.

“I feel confident. I've worked as hard as I ever did to be ready for the season's biggest race. If I can't do it there, I hope to get a stage win elsewhere from the breakaway.”

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