Today marked the end of a captivating and historic edition of La Vuelta a España. The team proudly looked on at the usually straight-faced Hugh Carthy who couldn’t help but flash a smile on the podium after the final stage. In a short period of time, they watched Carthy bury any lingering rookie status he was carrying with him as he now exhibits the confidence and grit of a seasoned professional. It’s hard to believe only a few short months ago, veteran Tejay van Garderen was excited to guide a less experienced Carthy through his very first Tour de France.
“I’ve believed in Hugh for a long time. I know this is just the tip of the iceberg for him and he’s going to win a lot more races. I hope to be able to help him in any way possible,” said van Garderen.
Before this race, no one could have predicted that a 26-year-old Carthy would eventually become the team’s leader. But after a couple of stages one thing became clear: Carthy had a shot of winning this thing. Sports Director Juanma Garate and team quickly adapted and changed course so that he could have a fighting chance. “Our staff and riders were fully committed until the end. To win three stages and to just see how Hugh’s grown up and matured makes me feel good about next year,” said Garate.
Woods, Carthy, and Cort also happened to grab some of the most exciting stage wins this team has ever seen as they made their way to Madrid. Woods was the first to take a win after climbing some of the toughest hills in Spain in an enthralling stage 7. “With a bit of luck, I had the legs and I was able to get the win,” said Woods. Woods was equally excited when Carthy was victorious shortly after in stage 12. “I can’t tell you how many times Hugh has put it on the line for me, so it was nice to return the favor,” said Woods.
After 4 days of exceptional riding, Magnus Cort took the team’s most surprising win, one that shocked the Danish pro himself. “I hadn’t even thought about winning that stage,” said Cort. Yet after a perfectly timed sprint, Cort gave the team yet another reason to keep fighting until the very end of La Vuelta.
“I’m thrilled we were able to make it to Madrid when the odds seemed stacked against us. It’s a good sign that cycling is in a healthy place,” said van Garderen. On top of that, he’s thrilled that the team rallied behind someone like Carthy. “Hugh is a unique person, and one of the most genuine human beings I’ve ever met. He doesn’t try to be anyone other than himself, and I love him for that,” he added.
Road captain Mitch Docker doesn’t think they could have ended the season in a better way. “It was a really tough race, so it was great to get to the finish. As a team I think we did amazing. It showed how great we work as a team. It was a great group of guys on the bike and a great staff as well,” said Docker.