The 27-year-old Australian jumped into an 18-rider move that got away after a hard, fast start to the day when it seemed the peloton was not going to let any escapees have an easy time of it. After two hours of racing, however, a breakaway finally stuck.
"From the start, it was a typical Vuelta stage," Haas said. "Everybody is so hungry for a last-minute result, and yesterday the break stayed away, so already there was blood in the water and the breakaway sharks were out to play again today."
Haas admitted it was not the team's plan at the start of the day that he should go in the move, but circumstances on the first climb of the day presented the opportunity, and he jumped on it.
"I was just trying to stay with the field on the first climb, and I was OK doing just that, but I didn't have ambitions to go in the breakaway today," he said. "I was our option for the finish from the peloton, but then 20 guys slip away after the first climb and I was in a good position to go with.
"Racing instinct always says never hesitate, race by feel and don't overthink things. So I got in there and then we quickly realised it would be the break for the day," he said. "I was really struggling with the heat, though, but it was me and [Dimension Data teammate Merhawi] Kudus there, so I tried to protect myself."
The gap stretched out to more than five minutes at its maximum, and on the last climb it became clear that the stage winner would come from the breakaway. The attacks started to come on the final climb to San Andrés de Teixido, and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) eventually soloed away to take the stage win.
Behind Calmejane, Haas kept pace with the leaders and held on for fifth, 23 seconds behind the winner. At the finish line he dedicated his ride and the result to the Qhubeka charity that lies at the heart of his South African team.
"Today I was really riding for Qhubeka and I was thinking about the difference we make, and every time we put ourselves at the front of the race we are doing a great thing for Africa," he said. "Today was a good opportunity to do just that, so I thank them for giving me the extra drive, and I thank the team for giving me the opportunity to pursue my ambition."