Hugh Carthy says he's ready to fight for a high place in the general classification at the Vuelta a España after impressing on the uphill stages of the opening half of the Spanish Grand Tour.
The Brit sits fourth on GC, 44 seconds down on Ineos' Richard Carapaz, having slipped a couple of places after the gruelling stage eight finish to Alto de Moncalvillo.
Carthy attacked early on the climb before he was countered by Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Carapaz, the pair finishing first and second on the stage.
The EF Pro Cycling rider has finished inside the top 10 on every uphill finish so far, though, and will now target a good placing in the overall of his third Vuelta participation.
"At the moment I have a lot of confidence and so do the rest of the team," Carthy told Spanish newspaper AS following stage eight. "I am prepared to fight for a good finish in the general classification of this Vuelta. The classification will be open until the time trial to Ézaro."
The stage 13 time trial in Ézaro is the only race against the clock of the 2020 Spanish Grand Tour and Carthy will be looking to limit his losses to the likes of Roglič over the 33.7km course.
He also highlights stages 11 and 12 this weekend as giving a good indicator of how the general classification will shape up, with the peloton set to tackle the category one Alto de La Farrapona and the HC Angliru on consecutive days.
"The stages to La Farrapona and the Angliru will give us a lot of clarity," Carthy reckons. "Then it will be known who will fight for the overall victory in this Vuelta.
"We already have a stage win with Woods but we are not satisfied with that. We will try to win another stage. If I have good legs, as has been the case so far, I will be there when necessary."
As well as coming into the race with good legs following his debut Tour de France, Carthy says he's benefitted from racing on roads familiar to him and that as a Brit from Preston the cold weather of an October/November Vuelta doesn't affect him as much as others.
"In the first part of the race, we've been on roads near Navarre, where I trained and raced a lot at the time. These weather conditions are also familiar to me. It's not a lot of fun to ride in the cold and rain but I'm British so it doesn't bother me that much," Carthy said.
Irishman Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) overtook Carthy on GC, up to third and 28 seconds in arrears of Carapaz, after coming in next over the line on stage eight after Roglič and Carapaz.
"For the next two days I have to stay out of trouble and try to recover from the incredibly difficult [opening] weekend," Dan Martin said after stage eight.
The 34-year-old crumpled into a heap on the floor after his massive effort up to the summit finish, saying it was impossible to follow Roglič when the Slovenian made his move.
"I felt good on the final climb and so I decided to test the other guys, but I ended up paying the bill at the end," Martin said. "When Roglič attacked in the last kilometre I had no reaction. At that moment it was important to cross the finish line as quickly as possible. I gave everything and I am proud of the achievement. Today was another difficult ride."
The 2020 Vuelta now faces two flat days on stage nine and 10, where Sam Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) will be hoping to add to his sole stage victory so far from this year's race, before the looming mountain test for the GC guys this weekend.
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