By Andrew Atkinson

Fellow Prestonian Hugh Carthy will lead the EF Education-Nippo team of climbers, sprinters and rouleurs at Vuelta a España.

“I’m feeling good ahead of the Vuelta,” Carthy said, happy to be back in Spain.

Carthy has only ridden the recent Vuelta a Burgos, after finishing eighth overall at the Giro d’Italia.

“The Vuelta a Burgos in the end, turned out quite nice and it was a good week of preparation.

“We didn’t start off as we would have hoped and my form and feeling on the bike wasn’t the best.

“By the end of the week I turned the corner – I was in the right place by the end – so I’m excited for the Vuelta and I’m excited to kick things off here in Burgos,” said Carthy, who will start his ninth Grand Tour in Burgos on August 14.

Climber Carthy, who gained his mountain stage victory and third place overall of 2020, is part of the US WorldTour team along with sprinter Magnus Cort targeting the flatter stages, Simon Carr and Jonathan Caicedo the mountains, and Lawson Craddock.

The eight riders racing in pink colours are Jonathan Caicedo, Diego Camargo, Simon Carr, Hugh Carthy, Lawson Craddock, Jens Keukeleire, Magnus Cort and Tom Scully.

“I think when you do more Grand Tours you become more accustomed to them, more relaxed.

“You know what to expect, the highs and the lows and how your body’s going to react,” said Carthy.

Preston, Lancashire born Carthy, 27, added: “Grand Tours are so long – and unpredictable – you’re always embarking on a long journey.

“It can go very wrong, it can go very well – you don’t know when all of that is going to happen. “You just have to focus on day to day things and look after yourself and stay healthy, try and get the best out of yourself over three weeks.”

Carthy, who won the stage over the l’Angliru in last year’s Vuelta, said: “I’m particularly looking forward to stage 18 and to the Gamoniteiru.

“It’s a new climb and I think it could be a future classic. It’s deep into the race and really steep so I think it could produce some fireworks.

“That’s probably the climb I’m looking forward to the most.”

Carthy will have the support of experienced and talented young climbers in the EF Education-Nippo line-up. Camargo will make his Grand Tour debut, while Carr rides his second after completing the Giro d’Italia alongside Carthy. Cort has three Vuelta stages on his palmarès, including the final sprint stage to Madrid in 2016. The Dane is a versatile rider who can succeed on a wider range of stages than just the flat sprints.

“These guys, alongside our team veterans, can really learn a lot and we want to see where they can be in a couple of years,” directeur sportif Juanma Garate said.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Simon in a few different situations and I will really push him to the line every day to try to see what he can do.

“With Camargo, we really think that he is a big talent but he has to keep learning and keep improving without any pressure. He has to have a Grand Tour with some goals to start to become a real WorldTour cyclist.”

The rest of the team will help Cort in the sprints and target breakaways, while protecting Carthy.

“I’m feeling good,” said Carthy, who has spent much of his career in Spain.