Netting a superb third overall in the Presidential Tour of Turkey and thus registering his best result since turning professional in 2013, Australian rider Jay McCarthy has said that he would prefer to miss out on a Tour de France debut this year and instead ride the Vuelta a España.
The Tinkoff Saxo rider shone in Turkey, netting fourth on the race’s first mountain stage to Elmali and moving into the same position overall. He held that placing until the final stage, then moved up another notch after the rider in second overall, Davide Rebellin, crashed out.
McCarthy’s performance showed that he is a rider for the future, but he wants to pace himself and also take his own opportunities where he can.
“I am hoping that maybe the Tour de France is out of question this year for me,” he told CyclingTips immediately after finishing 13th on the final stage.
“Being a young rider, I am happy going to some of the [pauses]…every race is pretty much the same now, but to some smaller stage races where we don’t have the likes of our massive GC men.
“Of course it is great to ride for Alberto [Contador] but it is also nice for me to build my character, to go into some smaller races and have my own chance.
“I think I should be in the mix of doing the Vuelta at the end of the year. And then hopefully the Australian team give me a chance to compete at the world championships in America. I think the Vuelta is a perfect preparation race for the worlds.”
McCarthy is a former runner-up in the junior world road race championships and in 2012 took a prologue win and slot as race leader in the Tour de l’Avenir, as well as stage wins in races such as the Tour de Bretagne.
Those performances led to Tinkoff-Saxo offering him a pro contract for 2013 and he has been there since. Last year he made his Grand Tour debut and in addition to riding for others, finished third on a stage.
His ride in the Tour of Turkey continues that progression. At 22 years of age he has many years of improvement ahead and would seem to be a big prospect for the future.
When CyclingTips spoke to him after the stage finish, he was waiting to see if he had moved up to third and was needed for the podium ceremonies.
He had heard that Rebellin had crashed but was awaiting confirmation that the Italian was indeed out of the race. Rebellin had started the day second overall.
“It is not the best way to move up but the team has worked hard all week,” he said.
“I feel sorry for Rebellin to crash out on the final stage. That is not the way you want to move up. But overall I am happy with how I went this weekend. Third or fourth, whatever it was, it is a good ride by the team and I am just appreciative of the team to let me have a go at GC for the first time since I have been a pro.
“It is a good feeling to be right up there amongst it.”
Having been given the chance to show what he can do, he agreed that his performance was a vindication of that show of faith. He said it was also a good sign for himself as he has put in a lot effort for this season after riding for others in his first two years.
“Personally everyone does this to have their own opportunity sometimes,” he said, showing ambition. “That is why you train every day hard.
“It is worth it even more to me now that I have all the good work for the team behind me, to give my opportunity back to the team and to deliver a good result for them.”
Getting GC opportunity at the Tour of California
McCarthy’s performances in Turkey showed several different attributes; an ability to climb was one, and so too the nose to sniff out good breaks. He is also a fast finisher, as he showed in taking third place on stage five.
Those displays have underlined what he can do, and also highlighted his aggression and his hunger.
Asked how he has changed over the eight day race, he paused before answering.
“I guess it has been a while since I have had to cope with pressure so much,” he said. “You have pressure when you are riding for a leader, but of course I am the one who has to deliver at the end of the day. I am just thankful that I have had a great team here support me.
“My confidence is a lot higher. Now I know that the training I have done before has obviously put me into good shape.
“It feels sort of, with having a good performance, that you have won a little bit because you can then look back at what you have done before to make sure you are in that shape again. And if not, to try to perform better.”
Now that he is already in the necessary shape – and the mindset too, after a breakthrough week – McCarthy wants to keep the momentum going. He has a chance straight away to do that; he leaves Istanbul Monday and flies to the US, where he will ride the Tour of California.
“Only a few of us from this team are going across. Then we meet up with the rest of them, so we have Peter Sagan and Matti Breschel and Bodnar there on the team as well.”
He said that he got a vote of confidence from the team after his ride in Turkey.
“I received the performance plan last night and I can have a go there in the GC again. But also I will have to help out in the leadout train for Peter Sagan.
“I hope he is in the shape that he normally is in California and that we can be successful there also.”