With the memories still fresh from missing his target of a repeat Tour Down Under podium, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) bounced back in style on Sunday with a clinical Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race victory.
'Exploding' on Willunga Hill, McCarthy dropped from third overall to 18th, and then 19th by the end of the season-opening stage race last Sunday. But, as in politics, a week is a long time in cycling and, seven days on from Adelaide, McCarthy stood atop the podium as the winner of a thrilling finale to WorldTour racing over the Australian summer. The Tour Down Under was consigned to history.
It wasn't all due to McCarthy, though, with two new recruits for Bora-Hansgrohe, Peter Kennaugh and Daniel Oss, emptying themselves on the roads around Geelong to set up the win. The victory closed out a successful January for the team, who also enjoyed a Tour Down Under stage win via Peter Sagan and Race Melbourne victory with Sam Bennett.
"It is a one-day WorldTour race now. It was awesome to win at Tour Down Under a couple of years ago and today is awesome as well," said McCarthy, referencing his Stirling stage win of 2016. "I knew I was having a good pre-season leading into this summer and to finish with the win today is the best."
While the 25-year-old clearly had the required form and condition to take the win, he admitted that his hotel room at the Novotel above the finish line also played its part.
"Looking out the window the last few days, my balcony at the hotel overlooks the finish line. I knew coming in that if it was going to be a small kick I knew where I needed to go so I went there," he said. Perhaps like Joaquim Rodríguez in the Ardennes, McCarthy will be requesting the same hotel room each time he lines out in Geelong.
At the Tour Down Under, for the second year in succession McCarthy had his team and world champion Sagan working for him. The Australian summer is a rare occasion McCarthy commands a leadership position and claiming the one-day race was a perfect payback for the belief and trust placed in his capabilities.
"It is incredible and I am not sour that I am with a teammate that is a three-time world champion," he said of Sagan. "He is an awesome guy and I like to spend my time on the front for him. As you saw last week, he was still the star of the show but every time you spoke to him all he wanted to do was to help me. That just goes to show how much of a champion he is and for me to achieve today's result is not only good for me but a bit of a payback for how the team believe in me."
With the early-season Australian success in the pocket, McCarthy's next aims are the Ardennes Classics via the Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco - races in which he is confident he can make a mark on similar terrain to Geelong and continue his progression.
"In my next block of racing at Catalunya and Pais Vasco there will also be finales like that so I think there will be more opportunity for me before another big goal this year, which is the Ardennes Classics," he said.
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