Just days after the 26-year-old Brit scooped a stage win on one of pro cycling’s most fearsome climbs, the Alto de l’Angliru, Carthy turned up the tempo through Tuesday’s Ézaro time trial to blaze to a fourth-place finish that took many by surprise.
Carthy now sits third overall, just eight seconds back on Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and 47 seconds down on red jersey Primož Roglič. With nearly one minute of head-room over fourth-place Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), the EF Pro Cycling all-rounder could settle for a defensive ride toward a career-topping third overall in Madrid.
But he’s not going to do that.
“I’ve got nothing to lose now, so I think I’m going to gamble,” Carthy told ITV Sport when asked if he’d stick with third or aim his sights higher.
“With the stage win and several other top performances now I’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “I’m in a position now where I’m happy – I can go home happy. There’s no pressure or anyone with a knife at me to finish the job. I’ll try my best and if things go as they have done so far I see no reason why I can’t have a stab at it.”
Carthy came into the Vuelta with loose ambitions on GC in an EF Pro Cycling team focused on sniping for stages. However, since finishing in seventh on the tough opening stage in Irún, Carthy has strung together 13 days of near-faultless performances to land himself onto the podium with just five stages remaining.
Many saw the time trial as potentially being the end of Carthy’s GC bid, but the Brit passed with flying colors Tuesday having been coached through the recon by American veteran and TT expert, Tejay van Garderen. Buoyed with confidence and red-hot form, the gangly Brit isn’t going to stop there.
“My body’s feeling good and my head’s feeling even better,” he said ahead of stage 14 Wednesday.
The Vuelta’s 14th stage is the first of a run of three tricky transitional stages where anything could happen. If the GC doesn’t move there, it’s guaranteed to light up on stage 17’s super-category summit finish to La Covatilla on Saturday.
“It’s probably going to be stage 17 that’s my best opportunity,” Carthy said. “But I think there are a few dangerous stages that people haven’t really focused on, a few dark-horse stages coming up where you’ve got to have your wits about you, where things can go pear-shaped.”