• Jay McCarthy had some good legs in Australian racing this year. (Getty)Source: Getty
They are a number of established Australian stars prepping for the Ardennes classics this week but one rider who local viewers should get used to seeing at the front of these races is 24-year-old Jay McCarthy (BORA-hansgrohe).
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
16 Apr 2017 - 10:19 AM  UPDATED 16 Apr 2017 - 10:37 AM

The Queenslander has spent four seasons quietly gaining experience with the now defunct Tinkoff team and has put that experience and strength to use, most prominently when racing in Australia.

His summer has been a consistent one, he was often right up in the thick of the action and managed a superb fighting comeback at the Tour Down Under to sneak onto the podium.

While many know that he has the talent for the hilly classics, he hasn't yet been given a proper shot at riding for himself, something that's about to change. 

McCarthy spoke Cycling Central about why this year is different from previous seasons.

"This year I had a good winter like the previous year building my base in Australia," McCarthy said," but the difference this year I have a program that suits me more and has allowed me to prepare properly for the Ardennes classics."

He will race Amstel Gold, Fleche Walonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and feels like the revamped course at the Amstel Gold race will best suit his talents. The new course sees the elimination of the Cauberg from the finale, which might lend itself to a long range attack or reduced bunch sprint taking the win. 

"I feel good but I feel that I'm still on the way up and I hope on Sunday in Amstel everything comes together. It's a race I have to stay very attentive from the start making sure I'm not using too much energy early and riding a very good position. Then in the last thirty km, I hope I have good legs. Best case scenario is it's a small group coming to the finish and I'm a part of it."

McCarthy is coming off some very promising results in the top European races. A strong showing at Pais Vasco netted him a second and third position stage finish and he heads into the Ardennes with some of the best form of his career. He won't go into any of the races as a big favourite and that may well play to his advantage if the big names of the field mark each other out of the race.

His ambitions stretch further than just the classics with the Queenslander hoping that good results will secure him his maiden Tour de France berth. 

"Next, I will head to California (Amgen Tour of California) as more of a supporting rider. I then will hopefully use that race and an altitude training camp directly after to build form for the Tour de Suisse and hopefully, in July I will start my first Tour de France." 

"I'm really excited to be a part of everything at BORA-hansgrohe. The opportunities they have given me and support for the team and myself has been unreal so far. We owe it to them to come to every race ready to fight for a good result."

Whilst McCarthy will be darkhorse as he prepares to take on the big names of the sport over the next week, he is a rider who should be on the radar of Australian cycling fans.