A ‘Huge’ day at the Giro

Hugh Carthy tops Giro d’Italia youth classification

“We had two targets today – one was to try to win the stage and the second one was to take the white jersey,”

-Fabrizio Guidi

Hugh CarthyHugh “Huge” Carthy cracked the Giro d’Italia top 10 overall in Pinerolo on Thursday and earned the best young rider’s white jersey for his efforts. The 24-year-old tops the Giro’s youth classification with a 35-second advantage over Miguel Ángel López (Astana).

“We had two targets today – one was to try to win the stage and the second one was to take the white jersey,” said sport director Fabrizio Guidi. “We knew that the overall for the young guys was close and Hugh was just in front of the riders that were supposedly not as strong as him on the climb, but, of course, we couldn’t be sure.

“The focus was to stay with the leader of the race,” Guidi added. “Hugh did that exactly but it was a little bit full gas for him to do it. He got the white jersey at the end of the day, and it’s a great result for a young rider like Hugh.”

Carthy started stage 12 in 16th overall and as the third best young rider. The 157-kilometer day began in Cuneo and featured the first category one climb of the 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia.

Neo-pro Sean Bennett, racing his first Grand Tour, jumped into the early escape that formed around 20 kilometers into the stage. The breakaway was large, featuring 25 riders, and included Jan Polanc (UAE). The Slovenian was best-placed overall, slightly more than five minutes down on his teammate Valeria Conti, who wore the overall race leader’s maglia rosa at the start of the stage.

UAE signaled its satisfaction with the race situation early, making it clear that the breakaway likely would be granted the freedom to stay away until the finish line in Pinerolo.

“UAE rode quite slowly,” noted Carthy. “It was quite easy up to the climb, maybe a little fight to the climb. A couple teams helped increase the pace on the lowers slopes, but it really was the climb that made the selection.”

It was a flurry of attacks up the Montoso – both from the breakaway and the bunch. Bennett was soon in no man’s land. Carthy stuck tight with Conti.

“A few riders attacked, [Mikel] Landa, Lopez. They got a decent gap. I was in the main group with Tanel [Kangert],” Carthy explained. Just over the top of the climb, I lost contact with the group, but I was able to come back on the decent.”

By then, Bennett had dropped back to assist with the chase, and he and Kangert combined forces to limit the losses to Landa and Lopez, the latter of whom is eligible for the white jersey.

“We arrived at the final kick to the line with a couple kilometers to go, and my legs, oof, I was pretty tired by that point,” said Carthy. “It was quite intense chasing back to the group, so I got distanced, but I managed to hang on to enough time to take the white jersey.”

While the white jersey wasn’t Carthy’s primary aim when he started the Giro d’Italia, he considers it a just reward for his consistency during the first half of the 21-stage race.

“It come from riding well, from being up there every day, from some good teamwork,” Carthy said. “I would have liked my legs to have been better on the top of the climb, in the final, but it’s the first day in the mountains, and it was a hot day. We’ve had a few easy days this week. Hopefully now with some hard racing in my legs, my condition will pick up.”

The Giro d’Italia continues on Thursday with more mountains and the race’s first summit finish. Carthy will proudly sport white between Pinerolo and Ceresole Reale.

“The race is wide open,” said Guidi. “All the general classification riders, all the climbers, they are ready to race full gas, to attack. It’s going to be a very hard Giro from here.

“We are confident now because we have two riders in the top 20 overall with Tanel and Hugh,” said Guidi. “Hugh was suffering a bit today, but Tanel is in a good way, and we think we can get an opportunity sooner or later to win a stage. We need to stay focused and to assess the strategy day-by-day. Looking into the course, looking at what others are doing. We need to be smart and use the brain, and now we have the confidence that we have the legs to do something.”