Carapaz back in saddle ahead of Vuelta test

The five-day Burgos tour is a good indicator of who is on winning form going into the Vuelta later in August

Photo: Getty Images

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Richard Carapaz (Movistar) is racing for the first time this week since winning the Giro d’Italia in May in emphatic fashion. The 26-year-old Ecuadorian is hoping to blow out the cobwebs at the five-stage Vuelta a Burgos before taking on the Vuelta a España later this month.

“The next big goal is the Vuelta,” Carapaz said in the wake of winning the Giro. “As the leader? Well, you’ll have to ask the boss [Eusebio Unzué].”

Carapaz is expected to share leadership at the Vuelta a España, starting August 24 in Torrevieja, with Movistar teammates Nairo Quintana and world champion Alejandro Valverde. The Vuelta could be Carapaz’s final grand tour with the Spanish WorldTour team as he’s been linked to a move to Team Ineos for 2020. Unzué has already confirmed the exit of longtime star Quintana, expected to join Area-Samsic, but there are reports that Movistar is trying to convince Carapaz to stay on.

Carapaz adds substantial firepower to a Vuelta a España lineup that has yet to fully take shape. Along with the Movistar trio, a number of grand tour contenders are on the provisional start list, such as defending champion Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott); Jumbo-Visma’s trio of Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennett, and Primoz Roglic; and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

Carapaz — called the ‘Locomotora del Carchi’ (the Carchi locomotive) in Ecuador — made history in May by becoming the first rider from his nation to win a grand tour and just the second Latin American rider, behind Quintana, to win the Italian grand tour.

The Burgos tour — which started Tuesday with a stage victory for Giacomo Nizzolo (Dimension Data) in his third of the 2019 season — is drawing a few Vuelta-bound names. The race typically is a good indicator of form heading into the Spanish grand tour.

Each stage features a sharp uphill punch, even on the sprint profiles in stage 1, 2 and 4. Stage 3 and 5 hit out on more serious climbs. Stage 3 ends with the Picón Blanco summit, at 8.2km at 9.1 percent. Sunday’s finale finishes atop the traditional closing day climb at Lagunas de Neila, at 11.7km at 6.3 percent.

Other favorites include last year’s winner Iván Sosa and David de la Cruz (Ineos), Rui Costa and Jan Polach (UAE-Emirates), Sergei Chernetski (Caja Rural-Seguros) as well as Guillaume Martin (Wanty Gobert), recently 12th at the Tour de France.

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