Five things to know about Vuelta a España challenger Hugh Carthy

The Preston cyclist is the latest Briton to find himself competing in a Grand Tour general classification. Here are five things you might not know about him.
By ZK Goh

Look at any Grand Tour general classification these days and you'd be hard pressed not to find a British rider challenging for honours.

The dominant names of the past decade like Brad Wiggins and Chris Froome have given way to those of Adam and Simon Yates, this year's Giro d'Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart, and current Vuelta a España hopeful Hugh Carthy.

Born in Preston, in the north-west of England, the 26-year-old Carthy has been catching the eye, sitting comfortably in the top five of the Vuelta standings just days after Geoghegan Hart won the Giro in Milan.

Carthy's EF Pro Cycling team last won a Grand Tour in 2012, when Ryder Hesjedal secured the Giro for the then-named Garmin-Barracuda, and the Brit is the team's best hope after previous leader Daniel Martínez withdrew following the third stage.

Here are some things to know about Britain's latest Grand Tour favourite.

1: He was highly touted as a youngster…

Carthy was always seen as a potential star.

Tall and gangly, he had the right physique for a climber, and in 2014 he won the Tour of Korea overall as well as the mountains jersey at the Tour of Japan. Both wins came before he turned 20 that July.

In 2016, he was involved in a mountain finish at the Route du Sud with that year's Vuelta champ Nairo Quintana, an impressive ride given that day's stage had also gone over the legendary Col du Tourmalet.

It was all proof that Carthy was a special talent.

2: …But didn't come through the British Cycling system

However, unlike most British cyclists, he never went through the national federation's academy system, which normally takes riders into track cycling before having them cross over to the road.

Wiggins, Geoghegan Hart, and 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, to name a few, all raced on the track at various age groups for Team GB.

In a 2016 interview with Cycling Tips, Carthy explained:

"British Cycling have their own way of developing riders; at a young age I didn't really fit into that. They have a criteria that you have to do the velodrome to enter the system. They used to do different things to what I did."

However, he would still consider racing in the national colours.

"If they asked me to ride for them, British Cycling, I would say yes, no problem. They just operate differently to the way I do. That's it, really."

3: He is fluent in Spanish which he learned only in 2015

It's not common to see a British rider give an interview in perfect Spanish, but Carthy has done that multiple times on the Vuelta.

Aged 20, a young Carthy left the London-based Rapha Condor team to join Caja Rural, a Spanish Pro Continental team based in Pamplona.

It was a daring move for a young rider who spoke pretty much no Spanish, especially considering it was – and still remains – a rare thing for British cyclists to move to European teams that don't speak English.

In Pamplona, Carthy shared a flat with Colombian cyclist Heiner Parra, which also helped.

"You pick it up quick; in a way, you have no choice," Carthy pointed out to Cyclist magazine in a 2017 interview.

Hugh Carthy of the Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team receives the best young rider jersey following stage four of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

4: He has a strong interest in snooker and darts

Snooker and darts are not sports commonly associated with cycling. But, it appears, Carthy isn't really just a bike-head as some cyclists are.

According to team chiropractor Matt Rabin, Carthy is a big fan of the two sports, which traditionally developed in public houses in England.

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Rabin said that at the Criterium du Dauphiné earlier this year, Carthy would text him to discuss the snooker. “He has a nice, broad interest in things other than cycling."

For his part, Carthy added: “One day when I've finished racing I want to go and watch the snooker World Championships.”

His favourite players? Former world champion Neil Robertson, and Scottish break master Stephen Maguire.

5: He isn't big into social media

Unlike many modern athletes, Carthy avoids social media.

He doesn't have a Twitter page, and his Instagram account – first posted to in August 2018 – contains just 21 photos, all of them cycling-related. There are no personal posts.

Carthy isn't someone who likes talking about himself, or boasting about his wins.

Clearly, he'd rather let his results on the road – and they will surely come – speak for themselves.