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Carthy eyes first Vuelta a España summit finish despite stage delay

Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo)
Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Climbing ace Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) remains upbeat about his chances for the Vuelta a España’s first summit finish on Monday, team sources say, despite being held up by the late-race crash on stage 2 and losing nearly 40 seconds.

Carthy crossed the line in 87th place, 38 seconds down on stage winner Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and the bulk of the GC favourites, and has dropped to 76th overall, 1:11 down on leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).

But team sources said that despite the setback, Carthy remains in good shape physically and upbeat.

“Two guys went down ahead of him and there was nothing he could do, he didn’t fall but he had to stop and the race split there,” team manager Juanma Garate told sports daily AS after stage 2. “Physically he’s fine, but we could do nothing about the delay.” 

Carthy was caught up by the crash and despite his team fighting to pace him back to the pack, the speed was too fast for them to regain contact. 

The Briton himself had told Cyclingnews before the stage start  that form-wise he is doing well, with Monday’s summit finish of Picón Blanco a potential target for the British climber.

“Hopefully it’ll be a hot, hard day and I can do something in the end,” Carthy said. “We did it a couple of weeks ago in the Vuelta a Burgos and I think it’s a climb that suits me.”

Carthy certainly has very recent success on Burgos’ summit finishes, taking an impressive solo win in Lagunas de Neila last weekend in the region’s eponymous stage race. 

After his breakthrough third overall in the Vuelta a España last year, the 27-year-old told Cyclingnews on Sunday morning that the Burgos victory has confirmed that he is on track to fight again for the GC in the country’s Grand Tour.

“It’s a different year, different circumstances. But at the end of Burgos I felt really good, and the team was good too.”

“So the GC’s the goal although every day’s a key stage: if it’s not the mountains, it’s the wind on the flat. Every day you’ve got a chance of losing time on GC.”

Carthy said he was satisfied with his opening time trial, where he ceded 33 seconds to stage winner Roglič, finishing 62nd. “I don’t think it was a significant amount of time, so that’s all good,” he argued.

Carthy says he has no less than four riders protecting him inside the EF line-up on the flatter stages if needed, but argues that they can also be opportunities, too, to gain time on his rivals. 

“Wind isn’t my forte, but we have got a good team here for that, Jens [Keukeleire], Tom [Scully], Magnus [Cort Neilsen] in particular, Lawson [Craddock] as well. Those four guys in particular are looking after me, others will do what they’ve got to do.

“The flat stages are dangerous but they’re also opportunities, we can use them too.”

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.