Hipster hooped earing hanging from the left ear. Incredibly low body fat giving him the appearance of a lean long-distance runner. Hugh Carthy would not look out of place weaving his fixie in and out of the streets of London, drinking organic Columbian coffee in Dalston. Yet, instead of this, from next season the 22 year-old Preston lad will be riding in the World Tour for American outfit Cannondale-Drapac after an impressive two years with Spanish pro-continental side Cara-Rujal. A pure climber, Carthy’s jump to the top division could be one of the best moves for next season, giving a boost to the struggling American team. It is said that other World Tour teams approached the young Brit, but in the Cannondale-Drapac team, Carthy has found a perfect hunting ground.
It has been a tough season for the Cannondale-Drapac team so far with little to write home about from the four monuments and two Grand Tours that have already been played out. They have failed to pick up a stage win in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France with overall contenders Rigoberto Uran and Pierre Rolland failing to impress on General Classification. The first four monuments of the year have not been much better either with Dylan Van Baarle’s sixth at the Tour of Flanders being their only top-10 placing. Therefore, the signing of hot prospect Hugh Carthy is good news for the men in Argyle. Carthy has showcased quality in the high mountains at prestigious races such as the Route Du Sud and Volta a Catalunya racing against some of the world’s purist climbers. This acquisition should refocus Cannondale for the 2017 season and hopefully find them success in World Tour races. Unlike fellow Word Tour teams, Cannondale seem to be a team unsure of what their purpose is, failing to supply a top class man for the classics, sprints or stage races. Yet placing Carthy, alongside fellow young riders Joe Dombrowski and Davide Formolo, you will have some of the world’s hottest climbing prospects with the capability to take stages in the world’s biggest stage races.
This combination of Carthy and Cannondale is also perfect for the rider himself. Having ridden for Spanish team Cara-Rujal for the past two years, the young Brit will have become accustomed to life in Spain, training in the mountains whilst also adapting to the Iberian lifestyle. The move to Cannondale will see no change to this way of life, with the team’s service course based in Andorra and many of the team’s riders living and training in Girona, Northern Spain. Additionally at Cannondale, Carthy may find himself presented with opportunities unlike those found at other World Tour teams. Many saw Movistar as the obvious choice for the 22 year-old, seeing as they are the sole Spanish World Tour team who have nurtured some of the world’s best climbers since 2011. Yet with riders to boast such as Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Ion Izagirre to name but a few, opportunities in major stage races would remain limited. By choosing Cannondale, he has chosen one of the few World Tour teams that are still finding their feet when it comes to stage racing. Therefore, if Carthy is able to impress early on, it is hard to deny that he will not be given the opportunity to race for stage wins and general classification in the big one week races.
If you remain sceptical about the young Brit’s talents then just look to his results this year. On the summit finish to Val d’Azur on stage three of this year’s Route Du Sud, three riders made the selection for the stage win. Last year’s Tour de l’Avenir winner Marc Soler, 2013 Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana and Brit Hugh Carthy. It could be argued that the Lancashire youngster was in esteemed company yet this ride was just proof of the youngster’s raw ability to scale mountains. Furthermore, you rarely ever see a British rider at an Italian or Spanish team normally due to their inability to scale the high mountains. Carthy’s rare partnership with Cara-Rujal, a team known for its climbers, gives further evidence to his unique abilities and the expectations of this rider.
Carthy is currently racing the Vuelta a Burgos, in which after outright favourite Alberto Contador, he is one of the favourites to perform on General Classification. If all goes to plan, and he performs well, it could see the boy from Preston named in the Cara-Rujal team taking on the Vuelta a Espana at the end of the month. Regardless, Carthy has shined in his two years at Pro-Continental level and his step up to the world tour is royally deserved. Cannondale-Drapac have had a sad season, with only six wins, two of which came National Championships. You hope that this latest signing could reinvigorate the men in bright green, and see the peloton’s best bikes finishing first again.