Lancashire rider Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) continued his impressive season with a solid performance on the Route du Sud’s ‘queen’ mountain stage in France on Saturday.
Carthy was in a lead group in the closing five kilometres of the tough stage with overall leader and Tour de France contender Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Marc Soler (Movistar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie).
Having worked for team leader Quintana, Soler attacked the group to go solo. Carthy then launched a move to try and bridge to Soler, with Quintana jumping on to his wheel.
Carthy had to work alone to try and catch Soler, and although he made good headway, the Spaniard just took the victory with Quintana coming around Carthy on the line to take second.
Carthy’s performance elevates him to third place overall, 58 seconds behind Quintana. Soler is in second place at 36 seconds.
Earlier this season, Carthy won the Vuelta a Asturias and was best young rider at the Volta a Catalunya. He joined the Spanish Caja Rural outfit at the start of the 2015 season from the British Rapha Condor JLT team after winning the 2014 Tour of Korea.
The UCI 2.1-ranked Route du Sud concludes on Sunday with a flat stage five that should end in a bunch sprint, and – barring disaster – see Quintana crowned champion and Carthy appear on the podium. Quintana is using the race as one of his key warm-ups ahead of riding in the Tour de France in July.
Watch: Tour de France 2016 essential guide
Route du Sud 2016: Stage four, Saint-Gaudens to Val d’Azur Couraduque, 184.9km
1. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar in 5-13
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 4 secs
3. Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural at same time
4. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 17 secs
5. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie at 21 secs
6. Serio Pardilla (Spa) Caja Rural at 33 secs
7. Ricardo Vilela (Por) Caja Rural at 55 secs
8. Mikel Bizkarra (Spa) Euskadi at 57 secs
9. Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis at same time
10. David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural at 1-25
General classification after stage four
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
2. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 36 secs
3. Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural at 58 secs
4. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis at 1-06
5. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie at 1-15
6. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Caja Rural at 1-55
7. Ricardo Vilela (Por) Caja Rural at 2-01
8. Mikel Bizkarra (Spa) Euskadi at 2-12
9. Stephane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis at 2-20
10. Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis at 2-36