Two days ago, Hugh CarthyHugh Carthy’s legs were empty, and he was simply hoping to make it to the next part of the season. The final days of the Tour de Suisse, though, were in the way.
Carthy took a shot Sunday on the race’s final day and mountain test. And he struck gold, turning a long-range mountain attack into a brilliant solo raid across the Tour de Suisse’s high passes, earning his first WorldTour victory in the process.
“On the first climb I knew the legs, body and head was good. It was just a time trial – the same for everybody – just one effort per climb. You just have to believe you can do it,” said Carthy, who picked up the king of the mountains title in the process. “Two days ago on the stage to San Gottardo I was terrible. My head, legs and body were tired, and I just wanted to be on holiday and finish the first part of the season. Yesterday in the time trial the legs were better. Today it was one last chance and I wanted to finish on a high before the holidays.”
Carthy’s attack came on the opening kilometers of stage nine, and he never looked back. The Brit opened up his lead to just over two minutes on the opening climb and extended his lead on the subsequent climbs gaining up to four minutes with 50 kilometers to go. Chasing behind him was a group of elite riders including world time trial champion Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) and young Colombian Egan Bernal (Team Ineos).
Carthy, though, held off the pack and had plenty of time to savor the moment. He tapped the EF Education First logo on his chest three times, as he crossed the finish line more than a minute ahead of his closest chaser. Carthy was mobbed by Sep and Ken Vanmarcke at the finish line, as the result washed over him. All told, he was on the front for 98km.
“The team ambiance was good and even at that moment, we had the confidence to do something. However, we didn’t think we could do something like that,” said sport director Fabrizio Guidi. “The beginning of the week was hard, but he started to feel better during the time trial and today we just wanted to see how he was feeling. We fought until the end.”
Stage nine of the Tour de Suisse played to the strengths of Carthy, who prefers these types of high mountains stages, but even so a 100-kilometer solo ride is a tall order for any rider, physically and mentally. The victory marks a huge step.
“We hired Hugh as the most talented British climber of his generation. But as with a lot of taller, lankier riders, it takes a bit longer to develop the power to handle the speeds of WorldTour racing,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters “So over the past three seasons, we always knew Hugh had the talent to do this. It’s a matter of being patient and working on the attributes that he has. I’m incredibly happy for him and for the whole team. He knew when to roll the dice, and it paid off … HUGE.”
Huge, of course, is Carthy’s nickname.
“It’s still sinking in,” Carthy said. “But for me, the staff, and my teammates, it’s a happy moment.”
“We had two targets today – one was to try to win the stage and…