By Gregor Brown
Brit Hugh Carthy made his Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta a España this weekend riding with his Spanish second division team, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. He says he wants to take every opportunity possible and build for next season, when he will ride with WorldTour team Cannondale.
22-year-old Carthy, only two days in, spoke with some trepidation about the three weeks racing alongside stars like Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), but with some hope knowing that anything is possible. Already this year, he placed ninth overall and won the young rider's classification in the Volta a Catalunya.
"Yeah you have to pick your moments when they come, you're young rider and you never know how long your career is going to be," Carthy told Cycling Weekly. "You have to your advantages when you have an opportunity to win or to get a result, you have to take with both hands.
"It's a pretty big deal to be in the Spanish team and to be in the home Grand Tour. I think I deserve my place though. I showed myself to be strong. Yeah you have to fight hard to be in the team being foreign, but here I am. And the team is happy for me to be here even with me leaving next year to go to Cannondale. They want the best out of me and I want the best, too."
He fidgeted with a small stage profile printout as he tried to tape it to his bike's stem. The team's helpers circled, ready to give him a hand to complete the job.
Carthy, who rode his first years with British domestic team Rapha-Condor JLT, lives in Pamplona where the Caja Rual team bases itself. His knowledge of those roads should pay off in the second week when the Vuelta passes from the country's northwest towards the east.
"The team's goal is ultimately to win a stage. We are all capable of winning a stage. I don't think it's impossible to win a stage.
"I don't know [if I can], I've never raced over 10 days. The Tour of Portugal was my longest. As long as I look after myself and try to race intelligently to try to conserve energy wherever I can I think I'll be OK. Barring disasters, hopefully I can get around the race to do the best I can."
This three-week Vuelta should serve as a springboard for Carthy, who is progressing next year to join Jonathan Vaughters's team Cannondale.
"Hopefully I can ride a Grand Tour next year and use this race as a base to try to improve myself next year like I did this year. I have to do the same and do it better next year," he added.
"It is definitely a level up from this team, but at the same time, it's not right at the top. I'm not quite ready to be right at the top, I still have a few years of learning and developing.
"It'll be good to be in a team or I won't have so much pressure and so many demands because I'm still young and I still need to be more relaxed. I know the people that work there and they all speak highly of the team. I'm looking forward to it."
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