Of the chase group behind Alexander Edmondson and Chris Harper in the Australian national road race championships, Jay McCarthy was the big winner as he claimed the silver medal. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider may have called himself the "first loser" in the aftermath but with his sprint sent a warning to his rivals that he will again be a rider to watch in the battle for the Tour Down Under podium
In 2015 McCarthy won the stage into Stirling, claiming ochre for a day and eventually finishing in fourth place. Twelve months later, there was no stage win but instead a third place overall result.
With the Stirling finale returning to the race for 2018 and a Tour de France in his legs, along with a team backing his GC ambitions that includes triple world champion Peter Sagan, McCarthy is confident of further success across the Australian summer.
"Next week is going to be very similar to last year and Peter will come and have some stage objectives, and we have Sam Bennett who is going to go for some of the sprints and I will hopefully go for the overall again," McCarthy said of Bora-Hansgrohe's approach to the Tour Down Under.
"Peter is happy to float between those two and help us. Stirling, which I won a couple of years ago, really suits Peter's capabilities obviously, so we have plenty of opportunity and the rest of the team we are bringing to Tour Down Under is super strong. I look forward to it and I am ready for it like I have been the last couple of years."
One team that McCarthy and Bora will be up against in the battle for the ochre is BMC with its trio of former winners: Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis and Simon Gerrans. The three riders, along with Miles Scotson, put on a show of strength in the national road race, and while Porte's 14th place was BMC's top result on the day, McCarthy expects a tough challenge from the American squad.
"They are strong. I wouldn't imagine anything else. They are a strong team," he said. "I think Richie coming today was a good sign that he is looking to get a race in the legs before he goes to the Tour Down Under after his period of time off after his crash at the Tour de France. I think he has come back really well after his efforts in the time trial and today looked strong again - maybe not as red hot as he was last year, but I am sure after today's efforts and another week's time he will be humming to go for Tour Down Under."
After the Tour Down Under, McCarthy will take a break then head to Italy for a one-day race, followed by Volta a Catalunya and Pais Vasco as he tunes up for the Ardennes classics, where he and Peter Sagan are likely to next line up after the Australian WorldTour opener.
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