History was made yesterday at the 2019 Giro d’Italia, where relative newcomer Richard Carapaz held off a surging Vincenzo Nibali to claim his first victory in one of cycling’s Grand Tour events. In doing so, Carapaz became the first rider for Ecuador to win one of the big races, which also include the Tour de France and Vuelta Espana.
The three-week long Giro was an epic cycling event that featured fast sprint finishes, impressive breakaway wins, and some of the most grueling climbs in the sport. It also included two good time trials, including a 19km final showdown yesterday to decide the race. Often times, the final stage of one of the Grand Tours is simply a processional where no one attacks the leader. That wasn’t the case in the 2019 Giro however, where the riders dueled it out in the “Race of Truth” to see who would go home with the coveted pink jersey.
Entering the final stage, Carapaz had a solid lead over Nibali, who did manage to close the gap some on Sunday but still finished a minute and five second back. Third place went to another impressive young rider in the form of Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic, who managed to pass Carapaz’s teammate Mikel Landa during the TT. He was another 2 minutes and 30 seconds off the pace however. Roglic had led –– or least commanded –– the race for much of its three-week run, but his team was missing a few key riders that made defending the jersey difficult.
With the Giro behind us, we’re now about a month away from the start of the Tour de France. Carapaz doesn’t look to be much of a threat in that event, which will seen defending champ Geraint Thomas and four-time winner Chris Froome participating. Both did not compete in the Giro in an effort be ready for Le Tour instead. Nibali on the other hand looked fresh and strong, and could be recovered enough to be factor. The 34-year old is a crafty veteran at this point in his career and is one of the few cyclists to win all three Grand Tours.
Congrats to Carapaz on the huge win which I’m sure is super-inspiring to all of his countrymen back in Ecuador. The country isn’t a hotbed of cycling like is neighbor to the north Columbia, but it now has a new hero to cheer on. Perhaps we’ll see the start of a cycling boom in Ecuador, which has the potential to produce some incredibly strong climbers and GC contenders in the future.
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