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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, October 27, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Hugh Carthy re-signs with EF Education First

The team sent me this release:

The Lancashire man of few words has had his breakthrough year during the 2019 season. Hugh Carthy started the year strong taking third on the general classification (GC) at the Tour Cycliste International du Haut Var. He continued to impress with a standout performance at the Giro d’Italia, where he was regularly seen setting a rapid tempo at the front of the race making the GC favorites sit up and take notice. 

Over the course of the three week Italian Grand Tour, Carthy’s success included three top ten stage finishes and third in the young rider’s competition. He then went on to win his first ever WorldTour race on stage nine at the Tour de Suisse; this was the year where all Carthy’s hard work started to come to fruition. EF Education First Pro Cycling is excited to continue to nurture Carthy’s talent and are happy to announce his re-signing through 2021.

Hugh Carthy

Hugh Carthy wins stage nine of the 2019 Tour of Switzerland. Sirotti photo

“Mentally I didn’t think I’ve changed too much [after such a breakthrough year], but then I had a break and went back home and saw family and friends and it sank in a bit more,” noted Carthy. “But then when you return to Europe you forget about it a bit, it’s like you’re back to square one, you just want to get out and race again.”

Carthy’s standout moment is, unsurprisingly, his time on top of the podium.

“Winning my first WorldTour race with the team, that’s probably one of my stand out moments,” said Carthy. “There have been a lot of nice moments that have led up to that moment, where the team have shown support and faith in me and that’s really nice.”

EF Education First Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters was impressed with Carthy’s win in Switzerland: “Hugh’s spectacular win in Tour de Suisse convinced me that he’s a very special type of talent. He’s an emotional and passionate racer. His 100 kilometers solo in Suisse was evocative of the big mountain raids we used to see in the 70s and 80s. He’s exactly the type of rider we want on this team.”

The Vuelta a España was anticipated to be another race for further standout performances, but unfortunately saw him crash out on stage six with a broken collarbone after a mass pile-up in the peloton. Not one to languish in self-pity, the day after his surgery, his arm in a sling, Carthy was at the start of stage nine in Andorra to see his teammates off and support the team in their revised Vuelta ambitions. The smile across his face was a sign that it would take more than injury and forced abandons to keep him down.

Carthy notes that when it comes to tough moments he’s witnessed quite a few over the last few years, especially the ones the team has had to overcome, “The team has gone through some ups and downs over the time that I’ve been here, and I’ve been here with the team when in some ways it was at its lowest point; a couple years ago when it nearly went under. Since then I feel like I’ve grown with the team in a way, and even more so with all the support we receive from everyone around the globe at EF.”

His personal growth, both physically and mentally, has been recognized by the team and is why this year especially he’s been given more responsibility and lead roles in races. 

“Hugh has made some crucial steps in his progression this year,” head sport director Charly Wegelius says. “He’s proving to himself and the world that he can not only be present at the highest level, but also win. This has given him the reassurance that he needed, that he is on the right track. There is still a long way to go until we find out where the ceiling is for Hugh, and I am delighted that we can continue this journey together.”

Steff Cras and Matthew Holmes to join Lotto-Soudal

Lotto-Soudal sent me this press release:

Lotto Soudal is happy to announce that Belgian and British riders Steff Cras and Matthew Holmes will be joining the team in 2020. Both climbers signed a two-year agreement with the Belgian WorldTour team.

Steff Cras: “For me it is like coming home again. Before becoming pro I’ve raced already two seasons in the U23 Lotto Soudal squad. I am happy with this move after a season that started well in Oman, before getting some health issues during the season. Fortunately the season ended on a good note. I finished my first Grand Tour in a good shape and performed well in the last races of the year. I am already hungry to prove myself in 2020 for Lotto Soudal.”

Steff Cras (23) raced the last two seasons for Team Katusha Alpecin. Matthew Holmes (25) raced the last six seasons for the British continental Madison Genesis team. In 2019 he finished 6th in the Tour de Yorkshire and 4th in the Tokyo 2020 Test Event.

Matthew Holmes: “After Tokyo, Lotto Soudal contacted me. I thought I was dreaming until I could finally sign my contract yesterday. It will be a big step from racing in Britain to racing all over the world but I feel I am ready for it and the team has faith in me. I am thrilled. I will mainly focus on the smaller stage races in a role as a helper who will get his own chances as well.”

With the signing of Steff Cras and Matthew Holmes, the 2020 Lotto Soudal roster is complete. The 2020 team gathered already yesterday at the headquarters of Soudal in Turnhout, Belgium.

General Manager: John Lelangue

Senior Adviser: Marc Sergeant

Sports Directors: Mario Aerts, Herman Frison, Maxime Monfort, Kurt Van de Wouwer, Marc Wauters, Frederik Willems

Riders: Sander Armée, Steff Cras, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, John Degenkolb, Stan Dewulf, Jonathan Dibben, Caleb Ewan, Frederik Frison, Philippe Gilbert, Kobe Goossens, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Adam Hansen, Matthew Holmes, Rasmus Iversen, Roger Kluge, Nikolas Maes, Tomasz Marczyński, Rémy Mertz, Stefano Oldani, Gerben Thijssen, Tosh Van der Sande, Brian Van Goethem, Brent Van Moer, Harm Vanhoucke, Jelle Wallays, Tim Wellens.

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