Simon Carr took victory on his final outing of the 2020 season to earn himself a WorldTour contract with EF Education-Nippo for this season. He joins Hugh Carthy as the only other British rider on the US-registered team.
The 22-year-old Briton grew up in France but said his British family roots helped him withstand the tough conditions at the Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika in the Basque Country to ride solo for the win.
“I managed to stay with the front group through the long cold, wet, attritional race and with 12 kilometres to go I launched my attack on the last climb,” said Carr, who finished 36 seconds clear of the chasers, including former WorldTour rider Winner Anacona (Team Arkéa-Samsic) for the victory in October.
“Going over the top with a 12-second lead, I was able to hold off the chasers on the treacherous descent and soloed to the finish. This result is what ultimately precipitated me to leave the Pro-Conti ranks and move up to the World Tour.”
After taking four top-10 finishes in race stages in 2019, including a pair of fifth-place positions on stages at Le Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc, Carr decided to remain with French amateur team AVC Aix-en-Provence for the beginning of last season.
The youngster said he had outstanding matters at that level and then planned to move across to the Pro Continental level with Nippo Delko One Provence mid-season.
“I had some unfinished business at the sharp end of amateur racing and I was especially motivated to get a good result at the Tour Savoie Mont Blanc,” added Carr.
“That was scheduled to be just before I was turning pro on August 1. Then along came COVID and the lockdown, so my amateur career ended right there.”
Carr’s Pro Conti debut did not go to plan when he suffered a knee injury that delayed his first appearance, and then his licence failed to arrive in time to ride Tour de l’Ain. After getting his season back underway on his 22nd birthday at the end of August, Carr’s end-of-season performances impressed the EF Education-Nippo selectors.
“After some racing in Italy, my only remaining big race was the Tour of Portugal, a race that is renowned for being incredibly hard,” added Carr. “I had no real idea how I would fare but had in mind that I would go for the win on one of the mountain stages.
“I came really close on stage two, but a mechanical problem with only two kilometres to go robbed me of that opportunity. I ended up fourth, which on the bright side gave me a commanding lead in the young riders competition that I retained to the end.”
Cycling was not Carr’s first sport and at a young age he won national level karting events in France.
“I had the level to compete with drivers who are now in Formula One, however I lacked the financial backing,” added Carr. “Cycling is by no means cheap, but motorsport is another level.”
After finishing karting, Carr joined an athletics club, however a niggly Achilles injury saw him take up cycling as recovery. A school mountain bike race saw him excel on the climbs and a classmate introduced him to a local cycling club, which started his journey in the sport.
“Until turning professional I only ever raced on mainland Europe,” added Carr. “Mainly France, but also in Italy, Switzerland and Spain. The latter is where many of best results have come, and with the EF European base being in Girona, I may even end up living there for at least part of the year.”
He’s not shy about sizing up his abilities and aiming for results at the top level of his profession.
“Until recently I've been perhaps incorrectly pigeonholed as a pure climber because I can also do a very good time trial and hold my own on the flat and cross winds. As an amateur I was able to contend for and win GC's, so I hope eventually to carry this over into the WorldTour ranks,” Carr said.
“But realistically for the moment my sights will be set on being the best I can be as a teammate to more experienced riders. Who knows maybe I’ll get a shot at a Grand Tour stage win along the way.”
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