• Tinkoff's Jay McCarthy is ready to take on the 2016 MARS Cycling Australia National Road Championships on Sunday (Luca Bettini)Source: Luca Bettini
Tinkoff’s lone Australian representative, Jay McCarthy predicts the MARS Cycling Australia National Road Championships will be as tough as a World Tour race.
Cycling Central

8 Jan 2016 - 10:22 AM 

McCarthy has been busy gearing up for the 2016 season and has his sight set firmly set on January's big opener in Ballarat. Although he is feeling like he is in good form, the 23-year-old from Queensland is well aware of the depth brought to the championships from other World Tour and Pro Continental teams, such as Orica-GreenEDGE and Drapac.

As part of his preparation, he raced in the Daniel Bennett Memorial Trophy, on New Year’s Day; a small, one-hour criterium in Queensland. He got away with four other riders and prevailed in the final sprint, claiming his first victory of the year.

McCarthy has spent the last month in Australia, taking advantage of the southern hemisphere summer to focus on his training program.

"I'm lucky to call Australia my home, which means I haven't had to battle cold conditions like my Europe-based teammates usually have to face during European winter. I've had a good training period, I was also able to rest and I feel that everything went smoothly," said McCarthy.

The Australian national championships kicked off on Wednesday, January 6, with a 44km-long criterium race on the streets of downtown Ballarat. “Following a two-month period out of racing, the New Year's Day memorial race and that criterium are a good way to get up to speed and into race form," said McCarthy.

The iconic Mount Buninyong circuit will see Australia's top road riders fight on Sunday, January 10. At 183.6km long and with a 1.5km climb on Mount Buninyong Road, it will be a technical race. Australian-based teams such as Orica-GreenEDGE and Drapac will have an undisputed advantage just by their sheer force of numbers. Fielding squads with up to ten riders, they will be able to set their terms and control the race.

Nevertheless, McCarthy feels comfortable he could have a good result if he plays his cards right.

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"The course is pretty tough, with a 1.5km climb in each lap, but it can suit me on a good day. However, it will be difficult, as I'm the only Tinkoff rider and teams like Orica-GreenEDGE and Drapac will field squads of close to ten riders. I will have to make sure I go after the right moves and follow riders such as Simon Gerrans in the later part of the race," said McCarthy.

"I'm looking to have a good result there. It's a course that suits me and I feel I'm in pretty good shape after last month's training. I'm confident I can have quite a good start in the 2016 season. The nationals will be a very good form indicator and hopefully, I will also be ready for the team at the Santos Tour Down Under a week later."

The Santos Tour Down Under runs from 16-24 January in Adelaide and will once again provide cycling fans with opportunities to see the top World Tour teams battle it out under the Australian summer sun.