Tour Down Under: McCarthy sprints to stage win and overall race lead double

Jay McCarthy started his 2016 season by winning a local criterium at home in Queensland on new year's day before claiming the minor points jersey prize at the Australian national criterium two weeks ago. Fifth place in the road race confirmed the Tinkoff rider to be in a purple patch of form, resulting in the 24-year-old asking for a rare shot at race leadership.

“I was lucky enough I had a good nationals a week ago and already before the nationals the team had given me the opportunity and I had prepared to come here as a leader. That was some extra motivation in my pre-season training and I am glad that’s all its sort of paying off and I hope I can keep holding this sort of form throughout the week,” McCarty told reporters after his stage win.

“I was hoping for a top five overall at this race this year, I know I had some good training coming in and I felt like I had some good form so to come out with the victory today, I am not done for the week so hopefully I can keep working hard and go for my goal and hopefully even be on the podium at the end of the week.”

During his three previous seasons with the team, McCarthy’s best result was third overall at the 2015 Tour of Turkey. A result he motioned when asked if the stage win was the best result of his young career.

“This is up there, I've been with this team going onto my fourth year now and last year I had the chance to go for the Tour of Turkey and I finished third overall there so I hope I can keep going upwards.”

McCarthy heads into tomorrow’s decisive stage three with four seconds over Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) and five seconds over Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge). With the Corkscrew climb featuring in the final 10km of the day, McCarthy explained his overall ambitions will hinge upon his position at the base of the climb.

“We can't let any of the big GC threats get away in any moves and obviously I have to be delivered at the Corkscrew tomorrow with fresh legs as possible so I can follow the likes of Richie, Rohan and Simon Gerrans over the top of it so I hope I have enough shape and also on Willunga.

"I haven’t had the chance as a WorldTour rider yet to go for an overall victory," he added. "Hopefully I can keep it up and I think I can still play a little bit of a underdog role in the overall picture of this race. I feel like the shape’s good and I think we have a good team here to go for it.

While stage four, with its flat finish in Victor Harbor that looks to suit the sprinters, McCarthy added there won’t be any easy days for the remainder of the race.

“Victor Harbor on page looks like a sprint stage but I think the climb with 28km to go and the crosswinds that we’ve had in the past could be a hard day so our team will have to control that day and also in Willunga, if it's all going well the next two days, then at Willunga I’ll also have to be delivered to that hill ready to go with the best.”

While Gerrans one of the victims of a late crash, McCarthy name checked the three-time winner of the race as a major rival for the GC.

“They are in really good shape, you’ve seen Gerro today going for the bonus seconds out there and he’s definitely wants to go for the overall and he’s smart enough and strong enough that he knows what he has to do to secure the ochre jersey at the end of the race so he’ll defiantly be a threat over the next few days.”

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