Tour of duty
MARYBOROUGH'S Jay McCarthy is hard at work showcasing his cycling ability on a big stage this week.
The 19-year-old former Aldridge State High School student is mixing it with the big boys in the annual Tour Down Under in South Australia.
Riding for the UniSA team in the six-stage event, McCarthy is showing no signs of being daunted by racing alongside the likes of Tour de France star and Olympian Robbie McEwen - far from it.
He showed no signs of nerves in the first event of the week, the Down Under Classic, a 51km closed circuit road race through the streets of Adelaide.
McCarthy, a member of the Fraser Coast Cycling Club, was part of a breakaway group during the race and went on to finish an impressive 37th overall out of a field of 132 riders in a time of 1.03.34secs.
Not a bad effort when you consider he only started cycling competitively six years ago.
McEwan finished 15th, just .15 second ahead of McCarthy.
The winner, German flyer Andre Greipel, crossed the finishing line in 1.03.17secs.
McCarthy, who made his debut for the Australian under-23 team during the UCI Road World Championships in Denmark last year, said he had enjoyed his first race in an event which is part of the world tour.
"I am glad to have got it out of the way to be honest," McCarthy, the 2010 Australian junior road race champion, said.
"Looks can be deceiving - I had plenty of nerves before the race but once I got on the bike I was fine.
"It was a great experience and I am looking forward to the rest of the week."
While the Fraser Coast was wet and wild yesterday, McCarthy, who won the 2011 Darren Smith Memorial Award for road cycling (the award is presented annually to the under-21 cyclist who performed best in national and international events) something Tour de France star and Olympian Robbie Mc-Ewen won back in 1994, said conditions down south were very different.
"Let's just say it could be a very interesting first stage from Prospect to Clare," McCarthy, who finished second in the under-19 World Junior Road Racing Championships, laughed.
"We've got 149km to do and it's forecast to be 39 degrees with strong winds.
"It's going to be tough but it's never easy in this sport.
"Saying that, it's a great privilege to be taking part in this event and I intend to make the most of it."