Riders, including Maryborough’s Jay McCarthy (inset) had to cope with temperatures which are said to have reached 51 degrees.
Riders, including Maryborough’s Jay McCarthy (inset) had to cope with temperatures which are said to have reached 51 degrees. Morne De Klerk

Red hot day for Jay

RIDING in the Tour Down Under in South Australia has proved to be a real baptism of fire for Maryborough's Jay McCarthy.

Mother Nature ensured that in the opening stage of the annual event, a 149km ride from Prospect to Clare.

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The 19-year-old McCarthy and the other 131 riders in the stage had to contend with red-hot conditions as temperatures were said to have reached 51 degrees Celsius.

The field also had to contend with blustery head and cross winds.

McCarthy, a member of the Fraser Coast Cycling Club who is riding for the UniSA team in the six-stage event, said it had been a tough day in the office.

"It was so hot - it was unreal to be honest," McCarthy, who finished second in the under-19 World Junior Road Racing Championships, said.

"I'd have to say that it was probably the hardest 149km I've ever done and I was exhausted come the end.

"I think I had something like 25 bottles of drink during the stage just to try and keep the fluids up and I can tell you that was a real battle."

But trying to combat the searing heat wasn't the only obstacle the former Aldridge State High School student had to contend with.

He got caught up in 15-man crash 800m from the finish line.

"This event is now a World Tour event and it offers ranking points to individual riders and their teams," he said.

"That means everybody's trying to score points and because of the heat there were a lot of tired guys out there.

"Teams jostled in a bid to put their main sprinters in a winning position and one rider's mistake caused a whole bunch to hit the deck.

"I was lucky - it was a soft crash for me and I was able to get back on and finish.

"A few others ended up in hospital."

McCarthy was back on his bike yesterday as the tour headed for the hills and a 148km stage from Lobethal to Stirling.



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