Can’t wait for your first Tour de France to come?
“Yeah, excited I’ve never done this before so I’m ready.” I look forward. ”
Hugh Carthy appears to be a man of few words, a rider happy to let his legs do the talking.
Usually that wouldn’t be a problem, except that there are only four British riders in the 2020 French Grand Tour, and this British cycling magazine would be a lighter journalist if I returned home with just this interaction of the first Prestonian to ride. on the Large Buckle.
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Carthy is skinny at 6’4, with hair cropped short and sporting a simple hoop in her left ear, visually giving her a more intriguing touch than your average glazed, mechanized member of the pack. He is also far from being the cannon fodder of the WorldTour, finishing 11th in the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
He has only posted 20 photos on his Instagram and does not have a Twitter account. While other British riders endlessly share every detail of their lives with their thousands of followers, Carthy seems to be keeping himself to himself. Clearly, in order to find out who he is, we’re going to have to do more than just ask him.
“I would say that’s pretty accurate,” says Charly Wegelius, Carthy’s athletic director at EF Pro Cycling, on whether his rider prefers to let his legs speak for him most of the time. “I think he likes to do things his own way. He’s not very interested in what the outside world is saying, but in private he has a pretty good sense of humor.
A sense of humor that he refuses to share with the outside world, in this economy ?!
The two main recipients of Carthy’s laughs, at least during the tour, would be his teammate Tejay van Garderen and EF’s UK chiropractor Matt Rabin.
Come on, what exactly does the Hugh Carthy comedy special involve?
“Being British, and he being the only British rider on this team, we are naturally drawn to each other because we share that sense of humor,” says Rabin. “But his ability to transcend that sense of humor in some of the other runners has been quite interesting and entertaining.
“He has a particularly pleasant relationship with Tejay, they have a very good bond because Tejay blames him for his Brit, and he gets on with Tejay for his Americanism.
“Pronunciation, spelling, stuff like that,” Van Garderen says of Anglo-American relations on the tie-dye team. “Sometimes I have to remind him that we won the war and that he should stay in his lane, that we are running things now and that he is just going to have to get used to it.
“All kidding aside, he’s a great guy. I love going out with him. He is definitely a stereotypical Briton. When I ask him “what kind of food do you like? He says a steak and kidney pie and I’m like, great, let me come and try some of that.
“He’s got that sense of humor that really pushes your buttons, I can’t stand around him without just cracking up laughing all the time.” Sometimes he’s very dry and he always likes to be upsetting him. If everyone says “this is awesome” they’ll be the first to say “no that’s crap”.
“If everyone is talking about their least favorite day of this Tour, which of course was the first stage with all these crashes, he’ll be the first to say ‘that was good, wasn’t it?’ He likes to go against the grain. You just have to laugh at stuff like that, but it definitely boosts morale to have him around.
From Peter Kay to Plato, Rabin adds that when Carthy is not joking, he is contemplative.
“I think he’s very introspective, he’s a deep thinker. He’s also very emotional, in a range of what it can manifest, ”Rabin shares.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Hugh on this Tour and we rarely talk about cycling. It’s good that he’s very interested in other sports as well.
What other interests?
“He likes what I would consider advertising sports. He loves his darts, his snooker, his boxing, and I think it was at the Dauphiné that he would go back to his room and send me messages like “ah Matt, you have to tune in to BBC2 right away” because ‘he watch hours of billiards.
“There aren’t that many Brits in their twenties who are in the pool and literally standing around watching the final footage of the semi-finals and telling me I need to tune in.
“He has a great interest in things other than cycling. It can get a bit too much if you don’t put the bike away, you know what I mean?
Between Wegelius, Rabin and Van Garderen, the same sentences keep popping up during this indirect interrogation of the character of Carthy.
“Comfortable in his own skin”, “stay true to himself”, “don’t live for someone else’s expectations”. Or, as Wegelius puts it, “he may be the oldest 26 years old I know. ”
“He doesn’t want to put a fake character just for the public,” Van Garderen continues. “If he knows you, he’ll let you in and tell you who he is.” But he doesn’t feel the need to point it out to the rest of the world.
“Sometimes I think opening up a bit wouldn’t be a bad thing, just to let people see who Hugh Carthy is. Because I think if he did that he would find that a lot of people would really like him.
With this new knowledge, it is time to ask a Tour de France rider about snooker.
“It’s quite relaxing, methodical. I watch it, sort of trying to predict the moves and then see what move they actually play and how bad you are at picking the moves. Hugh Carthy is absent, after finally asking a question that is not about bike racing.
“I also like the players, they all seem down to earth. One day I’m dreaming… well… not really a dream, but one day, when I’m done running, I want to go see the world snooker championships. Last year when we were in China at the Tour of Guangxi, a few weeks earlier, the Shanghai Masters was held, so I missed that one. But it would be nice to go and see a big tournament like this.
Go from cycling to stunning alpine mountains to dark rooms where white-gloved men neatly organize colorful balls on a felt table.
“Sometimes you wish you could be a snooker player when you fell and glided all the way,” Carthy says. “At those times you think ‘yeah, that would be nice to be a snooker player.’ Each sport has its own ups and downs. Cycling is a fairly healthy sport, snooker is played in dark rooms and involves a lot of movement.
The aforementioned contrarian in the 26-year-old character then comes to light, claiming that supporting Ronnie O’Sullivan is a bit like being a David Beckham fan, preferring players like Neil Robertson and “rough” players. on the edges ”such as Stephen Maguire:“ HLooks like he’s always ready to fight, hit the table and everything.
After another story from Carthy of how he stayed with teammate Julius van den Berg until 1 a.m. watching darts on Sky Sports during a training camp in Spain last year, he is time to talk about his debut on the Tour de France.
«JEIt was hard, it was demanding, ”he says. “You have 170 of the best riders in the world who are in great shape, any normal peloton you only get half that amount, it was just a bit of a pressure cooker.
Despite this, Carthy circled around the top quartile of the GC, eventually finishing 37th overall, two hours and 20 minutes behind Tadej Pogačar, the second highest ranked Briton after Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). He said he was having fun for the most part, taking a positive and open-minded approach to compete with the best in the world.
“Even now with limited fans you’re still in line for the stage and the flag drops and you feel like it’s a great race. I enjoy though, enjoying every step.
“I’ve been to Grand Tours before where you set up in survival mode and everything drags on, so a few years ago I said there was no survival mode anymore, take each day as it comes, enjoy of each step and then it goes much faster.
“And if you are in this mode where you seek the race, then the race is coming to you too.”
That prophecy came true in Stage 13, as Carthy helped coach teammate Dani Martínez on the road and at the break, preparing the Colombian for stage victory.
“It was a great day to be in front with Dani and then to win the stage, it’s good to contribute,” said Carthy. “It was well received at home, my friends and family enjoyed seeing me up front in the biggest bike race in the world, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Carthy has one more year to go on his contract with EF and is looking to become a driver who could someday get a result in a big race.
“If I want to make a comparison, he reminds me a lot of Ryder Hesjedal,” Van Garderen says of his British teammate. “Obviously Hesjedal won a Giro, won stages of everything, was a very good driver. You just have to look at his body type and the way he sits on the bike and I see a lot of similarities.
“I would say the sky is the limit for Hugh, I think. Under the right circumstances, he could end up on the podium of a Grand Tour, or in a winning break. If it’s a mountainous day, you give it a few meters on the road and you will have a hard time recovering it ”
I wonder what Carthy’s response would be if I told him that Van Garderen thinks he could potentially win a Grand Tour? Would we be the grateful recipients of a witty reply, or would he politely brush off the question, preferring to hide and hide any personal ambition from where anyone can find it?
Instead, I thank Hugh for his time. He begins to return, ready to head to the start line for another day in the Tour de France.
But then he leans back through the barrier of the mixed zone.
“Do you know who else likes snooker?”
I shake my head.
Thomas De Gendt.
And that’s all. Hugh Carthy leaves for another stage of the Tour de France thinking about the snooker.