CYCLING: World tour rider Jay McCarthy started his season with a remarkable victory at the Australian Open Criterium at Noosa on Saturday and now has his sights on the Tour Down Under in January.
The 25-year-old was stuck with just a couple of gears for half of the race, after a mechanical issue, but it didn't stop him from staying in a breakaway and timing his sprint to the line.
He finished just ahead of impressive Sunshine Coaster Ryan Cavanagh.
It was a special moment for McCarthy, who had dreamed of winning the event since competing there as a teenager alongside the likes of Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke and Stuart O'Grady.
"I've been on the world tour for about five years now but I always wanted to get myself a Noosa criterium and I did it,” he said.
Now, he's got an eye on the Tour Down Under. He finished third in the world tour season opener this year and is determined to give the race another genuine shake.
"At this stage I'll be going in as the GC (general classification) team leader again and in my team (Bora Hansgrohe) I have some pretty big guys,” he said.
That includes reigning three-time world champion Peter Sagan.
"He'll probably come as a stage hopeful and it will be on me to hopefully go for the overall result,” McCarthy said. "So I'll have great hope in that race.”
While McCarthy provides support for good friend Sagan in many events, the latter helped him clinch his podium place at Adelaide this year.
"I was very appreciative... to have him help me out and I look forward to hopefully doing the same again next year,” McCarthy said.
The Maryborough product, married a fortnight ago, also hopes to make an appearance the 2018 Tour de France, after making his debut in the famous race in this year.
"My program is very similar... leading in and if I'm in red hot shape then I hope to be there,” he said.
McCarthy's victory at Noosa was impressive given the mechanical setback on a circuit with hairpin turns.
"I was thinking I should be alright, but the course is taxing and after doing however many laps I did just with those two gears, I was starting to feel it towards it at the end,” he said.
"I generally like to keep a high cadence and save my legs for the final (sprint) but I had to go in with a bit of a different approach than I would normally.
"I knew I'd have to wind it up over the top of the bridge and use the ramp of the bridge to just get the run-in because I couldn't go through the gears like you would normally in sprints. That was my only shot.”
Cavanagh provided plenty of competition during the race, which went for 40 minutes plus three laps of the 1.2km route.
He won both intermediate sprints and still had enough energy to challenge in the final dash to the line, from a 10-man breakaway.
"I wanted to make it interesting and in this race you've just got to be at the front so I tried to stay up there as much as I could,” he said.
"I just took the opportunities as they came about.
"That final straight into the head-wind was all about timing and I just missed it but Jay's a class bike rider so coming second to him is not too bad.”