Can McCarthy claim the Tour Down Under title?
SATURDAY could be the day a former Fraser Coast Cycling Club member wins Australia's biggest road race.
BORA-hansgrohe's Jay McCarthy will start the crucial fifth stage of the Tour Down Under in third, the position in which he finished last year.
The 25-year-old, who was born in Maryborough and attended Aldridge State High School, is on the cusp of claiming arguably the biggest victory of his career.
He starts the fifth stage nine seconds behind three-time UCI World Road Race champion Pater Sagan.
Sagan, who won Friday's 128.2km race to be the fourth different stage winner this tour, was asked if he considered his chances of claiming the general classification win.
"I'm, obviously, happy with my first stage victory at the Tour Down Under and the ochre jersey but I'm also very happy with the performance and result of Jay McCarthy,” Sagan said.
"He's now third overall and tomorrow we will work for him and his GC chances.
"It is an important race for him, in his home country and our plan here is for him to get the best result in the GC.”
McCarthy stayed with Sagan and the lead pack for much of yesterday's hilly course.
It is a position McCarthy has spent much of the TDU alongside Sagan, and Saturday's stage from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill promises to be no different.
"We are in a good position. We are happy we got the stage result and in terms of GC, we have a good chance,” McCarthy said.
"I felt comfortable on the climb today. If there are attacks on the climb hopefully I can follow the likes of Richie (Porte), and if it's a group Peter should be there.”
Should BORA-hansgrohe play its cards right, it could end the Tour Down Under with the two top riders in the general classification.
"I will follow attacks on the final climb and Peter will ride his pace, and hopefully we play our cards right and we are still leading GC tomorrow,” McCarthy said.
The Tour Down Under will culminate Sunday with a 20-lap, 90km circuit around the streets of Adelaide.
Both remaining stages will be shown live on Channel Nine.