British rider Hugh Carthy is hoping his fledgling career continues in an upward trajectory in the next 12 months as he seeks to secure a Grand Tour start.
The 21-year-old has spent this year racing for Spanish outfit Caja Rural-Seguros RGA but his season has been cut short a month earlier than anticipated with an Achilles injury sustained at the Tour of Britain that led to his early withdrawal on stage six.
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Carthy attracted the attention of the Basque team with his overall win at the Tour de Korea as a 19-year-old last year, when he was racing for British continental team Rapha Condor JLT.
The climber has been typically tasked with domestique roles since his relocation to warmer climes, but he has on occasions been granted a freer licence, most notably in August’s USA Pro Challenge when he led the youth classification for three days and finished ninth overall – two places behind his Great Britain teammate at the Tour of Britain, Tao Geoghegan Hart.
He has grander ambitions for next season, including earning a spot on the team’s nine-man roster at the Vuelta a España, with the team usually being awarded a wildcard entry: “I think, for my age, the long season that I have had, I’ve think I’ve shown myself quite well, constantly learning and improving. The coaches and team are pleased,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“It’s the last year of my current contract, so ideally I’d like to win a few races, maybe go into a few races as team leader and see if I can perform.
“To secure a spot in the Vuelta is my big ambition for next year; I’ll be 22 by then so it’s time to step up to that level.”
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Mixing it with WorldTour professionals holds no fear for the Lancastrian, who placed above Giro d’Italia 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal in a mountain stage at the Giro del Trentino in April and was part of the front group of leading climbers for much of stage three of the Vuelta a Andalucia, won by Alberto Contador.
“I did well at the Giro del Trentino (fourth on the youth classification) and I’d like to go there again and do well,” he added. “There are a few races actually I’d like to go revisit and do well at.
“The Tour of Basque country is an important race for the team. I’d be pleased to be selected for that again.”