Richard Carapaz is a professional cyclist, currently riding for EF Education-EasyPost. He is the first and only ever Grand Tour winner from Ecuador, having succeeded in the 2019 Giro d'Italia. Carapaz is one of the few riders in the pro peloton to have finished on the podium of all Grand Tours, and has since 2019 finished on the podium of at least one per season. Most importantly however, he is the current road race Olympic Champion, having conquered the title in Tokyo 2021.
Name: Richard Carapaz
Born: 29 May 1993
Birthplace: El Carmelo, Ecuador
Turned Pro: 2016
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Richard Carapaz was born on the 29th of May 1993 in the high-altitude town of Tulcán Canton in northern Ecuador right by the border with Colombia. He is part of the generation of new South American riders who have travelled to Europe and found themselves stable as strong riders in the peloton, and Carapaz has made a name for himself after his impressive climbing and stage-racing capabilities.
Carapaz currently rides with INEOS Grenadiers, but will move to EF Education-EasyPost in 2023. His current salary is of €2.3 million euros per year with the British team. Carapaz is married to Tania Rosero, and the couple have two children.
Like many others, Carapaz developed in the popular South American continent, with occasional trips to Europe. 2013, his first year as an under-23 rider with RPM Ecuador saw him become Pan-American Champion in his category and finish 2nd in the Vuelta a Ecuador, a result he repeated in 2014, a short season for him with the Panavial–GAD Carchi team. Carapaz was riding local teams that were not inserted as a professional UCI team. 2015 was the same situation, with him nevertheless winning the under-23 Vuelta a Colombia, aswell as a few stages in some Colombian races where he spent his season with Strongman-Campagnolo.
In 2016 it changed however. He moved to Spain with the Lizarte team, taking several wins throughout the season in the domestic calendar, and winning the Vuelta a Navarra. This had him take on a stagiaire stint with Movistar at the end of the year, where he showed enough to score a pro contract. In 2017 Carapaz was officially a World Tour rider, quickly showing his talent with a 2nd place at the GP Industria & Artigianato alongside major World Tour climbers. In the summer he finished 6th at the Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad de Madrid, 4th at Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, and 2nd at the Route du Sud where he finished only behind Silvan Dillier who profited from an early breakaway. Movistar was convinced, and the Ecuadorian scored a Grand Tour debut later at the Vuelta a Espana.
The Spanish team were riding without a leader, giving freedom to the likes of Carapaz, who finished Top15 at Calar Alto, Sierra de la Pandera and the penultimate and queen stage to the Alto de l'Angliru, proving his potential as a top climber. His 2018 season started modestly, however he finished third at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali and then won a stage and GC at the Vuelta Asturias, his first Elite pro win right before his debut at the Giro d'Italia where the team initially had low ambitions, but Carapaz soon proved to be worthy of an organized block.
On stage 8 to Montevergine di Mercogliano, he anticipated the main attacks from the peloton to win his first Grand Tour stage, right in a summit finish. It was unclear how far he would go, but as the race headed into the Alps and he kept performing, he was a clear contender to the GC and the white jersey. Stage 19 to Jaffreau, where Chris Froome launched an historic raid to conquer the Giro, Carapaz thrived to finish second on the day, climbing from 9th to 5th spot, eventually finishing the race in 4th place. He later rode the Vuelta in support of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana who finished on the Top10.
In 2019 his plan was to return to the Giro. His run-up was very similar, with a calm start to the season, and the win at the Vuelta Asturias right before the Giro. Carapaz entered the race flying once again, taking a stage win in the punchy finish on stage 4 to Frascati. He looked good heading into the mountains, dropping the competition - mainly Vincenzo Nibali and Primoz Roglic - on stage 13 to Lago Serrù, and the following day attacking the stage to Courmayeur where he won almost two minutes on the competition and stormed to the pink jersey.
Carapaz had made his move, and throughout the finale of the 2nd week, and the whole 3rd week, Carapaz would count on the support of Mikel Landa, and on tremendous form to end the race in the lead, his maiden Grand Tour win. He then finished 3rd at the Vuelta a Burgos, but had an otherwise modest end to the season. 2020, after the pandemic general lockdown, Carapaz - now riding with INEOS Grenadiers - won a stage at the Tour de Pologne before a Tour de France debut. He could not target the overall classification however, lacking the form. In the final week he rode to two 2nd places, on the 18th stage allowing his teammate Michal Kwiatkowski to take the win as the duo rode over the line together.
His big goal however was the Vuelta a Espana. The race started with mountains straight away with Carapaz showing top form and intention to win the race. On stage 6 he jumped into the red jersey as Primoz Roglic cracked, losing it then on stage 10 to Roglic. Carapaz attacked the Alto de l'Angliru on stage 12 and took back the red jersey, but Roglic recovered it once again on the stage 13 (out of 18 stages) time-trial. On the final mountain stage to La Covatilla Carapaz attacked and distanced Roglic and was very close to taking back enough time to win the Vuelta, but was short of the win by only 24 seconds, hence finishing second and closing his season.
In 2021 it was time to eye the Tour de France's overall classification. He had a very strong run-up, winning a stage and the overall classification of the Tour de Suisse. At the Tour he was the only one able to respond to Tadej Pogacar when he first attacked on stage 8, but everyone was fighting for minor places after that stage. Carapaz rode alongside other podium contenders until the Pyrenees on the final week, stages 17 and 18 which had summit finishes where Pogacar won. Jonas Vingegaard who finished second and Richard Carapaz who eventually finished third were by far the best of the rest, with the Ecuadorian rising to third and completing a treble of Grand Tour podiums.
His post-Tour saw him on the form of his life however. Carapaz entered the Tokyo Olympic Road Race as an outsider, and attacked together with Brandon McNulty after the main climb of the day. In the rolling finale, Carapaz dropped his group companion and rode to a solo win in Tokyo, becoming the new Olympic champion, a title he will have at least until 2024. He began the Vuelta a Espana afterwards, however abandoning in the second week suffering with fatigue and lack of form.
2022 saw him win the time-trial national championships early in the year, win a stage and finish second at the Volta a Catalunya. His goal was the Giro d'Italia and he led INEOS into it, showing good form in the first big summit finish to Blockhaus on stage 9. Carapaz took over the pink jersey on an explosive stage into Torino on the 14th day and was at the helm of the race, the prime contender to win the general classification. He showed his very best form all the way into the final summit finish of the race at Passo Fedaia, where he couldn't withstand the attack of Jai Hindley in the summit finish, and eventually fell to second in the overall classification where he finished the race.
Carapaz aimed as high at the Vuelta a Espana, but in the opening week he lacked the form and fell out of contention. His target was then different, and Carapaz still succeeded wildly as he took three stage wins in three high mountain stages at Peñas Blancas, Sierra de la Pandera and Puerto de Navacerrada, capturing the KOM classification on the way, thus concluding his stint with INEOS Grenadiers, before a move to EF Education-EasyPost into 2023.
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