Hugh Carthy says it's a "dream come true" after taking victory atop the Angliru on stage 12 of the Vuelta a España, a dream preceded by a nightmare judging by the grimace on the Brit's face as he tossed and turned his way over his bike up the punishing climb.
"It's a dream come true to win any professional race, but to win in a Grand Tour on a mythical climb, it's hard to put into words," Carthy said after the finish. "It doesn't get any better than that."
The EF Pro Cycling rider had impressed over the opening week of the Vuelta, second on GC and just 18 seconds behind Richard Carapaz (Ineos) heading into the first rest day, before losing some ground in the second week.
That all changed on the second of two tough mountain days, though, as he stuck with the GC group up the climb to the finish, initially making one move to split the group with 3km to go before he put in his race-winning move just before the flamme rouge.
"Was it a good time to attack?" Carthy was asked in his post-stage interview.
"It looks like it yeah, I won the stage," the Prestonian answered in his matter of fact manner.
Carthy now finds himself back up to third on GC, only 32 seconds behind Carapaz, with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) 10 seconds behind the Ecuadorian, having struggled up the last climb of the day.
After the second rest day, the Spanish Grand Tour resumes with a 33.7km individual time trial, a mostly flat affair before a third category climb up to the finish.
"Exciting, I think, for the public it's everything they want," Carthy said of the current GC situation. "We have a close race going into the time-trial. Everything is still to play for."
With Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) only trailing him in the overall classification by three seconds, Carthy faces a tough challenge from an experienced rider to hold on to his podium place. But should he be able to dispatch the Irishman, third place overall looks like it's his, with fifth place Enric Mas more than a minute behind him.
"I’d say the sky’s the limit for Hugh I think. Given the right circumstances, he could find himself on the podium of a Grand Tour, or in a winning break," Tejay van Garderen told Cycling Weekly at the 2020 Tour de France. "If it’s a mountainous day, you give him a couple of metres up the road and you’re gonna have a hard time getting him back."
Turns out Tejay was right. Time to ask him for next week's lottery numbers.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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