News – Tour of Korea


Every second counts for race leader Hugh Carthy as he wins the Queen Stage in the Tour of Korea

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News – Tour of Korea

Event Press Release – Photos  ‘Aaron Lee | Tour de Korea 2014’
The day was Saturday 07 June. The occasion: the pre-race press conference for the 2014 Tour de Korea. As the overall winner of the 2013 edition, Mike Cuming, representing Rapha Condor JLT, was the first to field a question. After a brief exchange on the course itself, the following question was put to the 23-year old Brit:

“Most of the team from last year’s race is back for this year and Hugh Carthy is climbing really well. Is it practical to start with the ambition of winning GC?”

Cuming replied: “…yeah, Hugh is climbing really well at the minute. I mean, he’s really young but every race he gets a little bit better and a little bit stronger so hopefully we’ll start the race with hopes of winning the GC again… if one of us is still up there on GC towards the end towards the mountain top finish then, yeah, we should have a good shot.”


Fast-forward seven days. Another press conference – different location. At the conclusion of Tour de Korea’s penultimate 7th stage in Pyeongchang, Cuming’s teammate Carthy is about to walk onto the podium to collect his yellow jersey after winning the stage. It all seems eerlly foreshadowed. Or, meticulously planned.

The 158.3km seventh stage, starting and finishing in Pyeongchang, Gangwon province, was held aloft by all contenders as the crucial platform from which the overall winner would launch. The peloton would need to conserve energy on the downward-trending third of the parcours, transitioning to a modest category 4 climb at the midpoint.

From there they would drop into the bowl-like final 70 kilometres, before arriving at the bottom of a 7.3km ascent with an 8.7% average gradient; on paper, looking every bit like the leading-edge of an ancient scythe lain on its side, capable of cutting the peloton to shreds.

As expected, the 96 starters moved along briskly, with Vini Fantini Nippo’s Grega Bole leading through the intermediate sprint at 14.5km. The additional points elevated the Slovenian above MTN-Qhubeka’s Kristian Sbaragli in the sprint classification.

Before the field had a chance to settle in, Jang Sun-jae (Korea National Team) and Nurbalot Kulimbetov (Continental Team Astana) made their move. At 3:42″ and 4:42″ behind on GC, respectively, and not in contention for any other classification, neither rider posed a real threat to any of the leaders and so were permitted some airtime.


Sure enough, as the pair reached the foot of the ascent to the finish, the peloton – driven by race-leader Juan José Oroz’s Burgos-BH team – clamped down on the shenanigans. Kulimbetov immediately gave up, dropping back into the field, whilst his now-solo companion soldiered on. Jang Sun-jae, the brother of Jang Chan-jae (OCBC Singapore Continental Cycling Team) and son of a Korean National Cycling Team coach, was doing his utmost to resist being scolded by the action boiling behind him, but he too was overcome.

An attack from MTN-Qhubeka’s Johann van Zyl whittled down the peloton to less than 30 riders, and Viktor Okishev (Continental Team Astana) also had a dig. Once again, the lead group fractured. Then, as foreshadowed, Rapha Condor JLT hit the switch with four kilometres remaining. Richard Handley, winner of stage two, early holder of the yellow jersey, and still in 18th place on GC, took off.


His move compelled a now-isolated Oroz to chase and use up precious energy. A select group, including Jack Haig and Mark O’Brien (Avanti Racing Team), Choe Hyeongmin (Geumsan Insam Cello), Lachlan Norris (Drapac Cycling), Fortunato Baliani (Christina Watches – Kuma), Grega Bole (Vini Fantini Nippo), Liu Xin Yang (Giant-Champion System Pro Cyling) Okishev and Oroz, bridged to Handley. Most importantly for Rapha Condor JLT, Carthy was there too.

On making contact with Handley, Carthy – having started the day in 3rd on GC, 8″ behind Oroz – shot from the rear of the group, catalysing Haig and Choe. The latter was able to respond more effectively, closing on Carthy rapidly inside the final kilometre.

The Korean rider went outside the Briton in the final left-hand turn but, in a haze of lactic acid, Choe turned left into the deviation used by the vehicular convoy. Carthy paused to avoid crashing into last year’s KOM and rode the final 50m to the line.

A frustrated Choe returned to the course in time to beat Jack Haig to second place. Choe would likely have won the stage, however, his eight-second deficit to the new yellow jersey would have required a four-second margin of victory to reverse the clothing arrangements.

“We wanted to put everyone else on the back foot,” stated Carthy, post-stage. “With yesterday’s results for Rich (Handley) he was in the game, close to the lead, so he was much more of a threat. Burgos-BH and the yellow jersey (Oroz) had to chase him.

They had to commit to bringing him back. When he did come back, I waited and waited and then went with the tailwind. I just totally committed. I managed to hold everyone off and take the stage win and have enough time to get some time on everyone.

“It’s stressful having the yellow jersey. Especially so early on in the race. It’s pretty unpredictable in its nature. In hindsight, when you look back now, it worked out quite well but at the time it was still quite disappointing the way Rich lost it. We came back strong and – Rich especially – used it for motivation throughout the week to make sure we nailed it on the right day.

“It’s still pretty close. Although it’s a short stage (tomorrow), a lot can happen. A lot’s happened all week. As I said it’s unpredictable so we’ve got to be on our guard and ready to race aggressively like we have done all week.”


1) Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT) 158.3km in 3.55:48
2) Choe Hyeongmin (Geumsan Insam Cello) @ 0:07″
3) Jack Haig (Avanti Racing Team) @ 0:07″

1) Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT) 1’177km in 25.24:19
2) Choe Hyeongmin (Geumsan Insam Cello) @ 0:19″
3) Jack Haig (Avanti Racing Team) @ 0:21″

Race Leader (Yellow jersey): Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT)
Points Leader (Sky Blue jersey): Grega Bole (Vini Fantini Nippo)
King of the Mountains Leader (Polka-Dot jersey): Jang Kyung-gu (Korail Cycling Team)
Best Young Rider (White jersey): Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT)
Best Team: Avanti Racing Team

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