Cyclingnews will be introducing some of the fresh faces in the WorldTour peloton for 2013 in a series of articles. Here, we caught up with 20-year-old Jay McCarthy at the Tour Down Under. The Australian picked up some impressive results in 2012, including six wins - including the prologue of the Tour de l'Avenir. He has also taken stage wins at the Tour de Bretagne - Trophee des Granitiers, Toscana - Coppa delle Nazioni and the New Zealand Cycle Classic, where he also won the overall title. He also won the one-day race Trofeo Piva Banca Popolare di Vicenza.
Cyclingnews: How did contract come about? Which races best showed your ability to ride at the WorldTour level?
Jay McCarthy: I had a really good season with Team Jayco-AIS last year. I started off with the Tour Down Under with the Uni-SA team and got a taste for WorldTour cycling. I took what I learned and gained from that little bit of racing and took it to the under 23 races and came away with a few victories. In September I had a few options and decided that Saxo-Tinkoff really fits with where I can see myself going in cycling.
CN: What started you racing bikes?
JMC: I started when I was about 14-15. I used to do cross-country running. When I was in high school there was a coach, Dave Trevorrow who ran a triathlon program and I got into that. From there I enjoyed the cycling part the most.
CN: Did you compete in any other sports before taking up cycling full time?
JMC: My mum had me in pretty much every sport when I was younger. I wanted to be in every sport too. Cricket, football, soccer, touch football...
CN: Who was your sporting hero growing up?
JMC: I don't think I really had one. I just really enjoyed sport and I respect most athletes at that high level. There's no one person that I admired the most.
CN: Which WorldTour race do you most want to compete in?
JMC: I'll get the chance to do Amstel Gold early in the year. This year's about figuring out what kind of rider I am. Hopefully when I'm in shape I'll be able to give it a go. Amstel Gold is one that really interests me and my ability in the under 23 level and amateurs, I went well on that sort of terrain so it will be great to experience that race.
CN: What was your reaction to the USADA/US Postal case - does it make you concerned for what you might find at the WorldTour, or give you hope?
JMC: It was quite interesting at the time when all of this stuff was coming out. It was before my time and I don't know too many of the people personally. I don't have a real opinion on it but I just hope that it cleans up the sport and that it improves things for our generation.
CN: What are you changing about your program and/or season preparation to help you transition to the WorldTour?
JMC: I've been told a lot by the team that it's a big thing when you're stepping up but it's important not to think about it too much. Just do the things that you normally do. As I get older and stronger I'll be able to handle more and more so it's about taking it step-by-step. Just because I'm professional doesn't mean I have to go out and do eight hours. It's about sticking with the fundamentals.
CN: Have you spoken to other riders who've made the leap and have provided advice or other mentors?
JMC: It's good having Jonathan Cantwell in the team. I'm from Brisbane and he's at the Gold Coast so it's good to look up to him. He may be a different style of rider but he's been good to have around to ask advice.
CN: Where will you be based - who will you be living with there? Prepared for culture shock?
JMC: I'll be living in Lucca, Italy. I've spent a little bit of time there with a few races that went through there in the last few years. I've heard it's really good for training. Being in Varese for the last couple of years I've learned the Italian culture and it's good to be able to experience something else.
CN: Do you have a special talent aside from cycling that people might not know about?
JMC: Not really. I have a love for most sports - I follow a little bit of everything.