Named on Bora-Hansgrohe's Tour de France long list, a solid Tour de Suisse performance is likely to seal Jay McCarthy's position in the final nine-man team. Should McCarthy get the call up to the French Grand Tour, he will join 54 other Australians to have achieved the feat.
A professional since 2013, McCarthy made his Grand Tour debut at the 2014 Giro d'Italia, raced the 2015 Vuelta a Espana and returned to the Giro last year. A Tour de France appearance will complete the Grand Tour set.
Back in Europe after a stint of American altitude training in Park City, Utah with Bora teammates, including world champion Peter Sagan, McCarthy explained to Cyclingnews that he feels 2017 is right to make his Tour debut.
"When we were naming goals for the season I felt that over the last few years I have done the Giro twice and the Vuelta so I have some experience in Grand Tours and this year is probably the first that I felt the Tour could be a possibility for me," McCarthy told Cyclingnews via a phone interview. "I did mention to the team in the [off-season] camp that I would like the opportunity to prepare for maybe starting in July. Hopefully, I can do a good a job [at Tour de Suisse] and be there in July."
The key to McCarthy's Tour de France ambitions will be a good performance at Tour de Suisse in the service of Sagan while taking any opportunities that come his way.
"If I have a good race there then I will possibly be up for my first Tour de France so I'll start with a little bit of extra motivation but we have a job in hand in Tour de Suisse and I feel that we can have good results there," he said. "We take Peter Sagan, who has show in the past that Tour de Suisse is one of his races where he can make a lot of results, and I feel it will be a good week. At the end of the day, I hope to have a nice week and I could be there in July."
The 24-year-old enjoyed his first professional victory last year at the Tour Down Under. While he missed a win in January, his third place overall behind Richie Porte and Esteban Chaves suggested McCarthy was on track for a big 2017. A second and third place in the opening three stages of Vuelta al Pais Vasco proved he's not just a flat track bully with further confirmation via his top-20 placings at Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne.
A period of rest post-Ardennes Classics followed for McCarthy who was then on team duty in California for Sagan on the sprint days, and then Rafa Majka in the mountains. McCarthy's versatility is one of his strengths and should he get the Tour call up, he anticipates he will be called upon in a similar fashion to support both teammates.
"If I am going to the Tour de France, then I am going to be in a position where I have to look after Peter on his days and Rafa Majka on his climbing days. I need to be in good shape so next week if I have prepared well and done the right training then hopefully you are going to see a lot of me," he said about his role at Tour de Suisse. "And not just helping like I was in California but maybe going for a result if the chance comes up. I’ll go into the race open minded, and I think the team will have the same plan for me as well, that there are chances for Peter, myself and a couple of other guys. The main plan though is to win a few stages with Peter."
Should the race go to plan, McCarthy will line out for Bora in Dusseldorf ready for the challenge of a debut Tour which will include targeting the green jersey with Sagan and the top-five overall with Majka.