Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) has the necessary attributes including a strong time trial and should not be ruled out as a potential winner of the Vuelta a España, according to his manager at his first UCI team.
The Briton put in a storming ride to win atop Alto de l’Angliru on Sunday’s stage 12, moving back to third on the podium and sitting just 32 seconds shy of leader Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and 22 seconds adrift of race favourite Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)
Talk after the 26-year-old’s success was if the Preston-born rider could go on and consolidate his podium position under the threat of Dan Martin (Israel-Start Up Nation) who is just three seconds shy of him.
But John Herety, who gave Carthy his first experience of UCI racing in 2013 and 2014 for the Continental outfit Rapha Condor, believes that his former prodigy should not be discounted for the overall win.
“A lot of people don’t seem to realise it, and it surprised me at first, but he can do a really good time trial,” Herety told Cycling Weekly.
“Look at the Giro last year [stage nine – ed]: it had a very similar profile to the Vuelta’s TT on Tuesday and Hugh finished eighth, 1-30 down from Roglič. [Carapaz finished 25s down on Carthy – ed]
“Now Roglič should be the best again tomorrow, but to be in the top-10 in a Grand Tour time trial is pretty impressive.
“It was unusual for a junior of his build to be a good time trialist – and it’s still unusual now – but he can put out good power on a flat. As a junior, he would record 19-minute 10 mile TTs.
“At the end of the day, the riders that can climb and time trial make the best riders. As a young kid, one of his mentors was Randy Allsopp who was a time trialling legend in the north.
“He really helped Hugh, and Hugh was a classic club cyclist doing his club 10s. He grew up in the time trialling scene.”
Although only one big mountain stage remains, Saturday’s ascent of Alto de la Covatilla, a finishing kick to the line on stage 14 and a puncheur’s profile on stage 15 could provide additional opportunities to gain further time. Should Carthy once again attack, Herety says he has an unconventional advantage.
“He’s a nightmare to follow on his wheel – you don’t want to be behind him,” said Herety.
“He only gets away with his climbing style because he is as good as he is. When he gets out of the saddle, the bike goes backwards and it’s not ideal. It doesn’t look good, but he’s always been the same. It’s an erratic style.
“I think on Sunday he wasn’t just going for the stage but also for the GC. He attacked to take time out of everybody and his ambition now will be to get more. He wants more.
“I was surprised that he attacked a second time yesterday. To bring him back and then go again, that’s special. He’s an out-and-out climber and he’s proving in this Vuelta that he can put it together consistently in a three-week stage race.”
And what if the wind blows in northern Spain? “He can ride in crosswinds too. He really can. This Vuelta has a terrain that really suits him and he can keep this up.”