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Carapaz leads an all-star Ineos squad in what is both his first grand tour since being undone at the Giro d’Italia and his final three-weeker with the British powerhouse.
“I have no doubts about my performance after the Giro,” Carapaz told MARCA of his confidence levels after being squeezed out of pink.
“In the end, I have always performed well in the grand tours. I trust a lot in myself and my team. We will do a great ride.”
Carapaz spent six days in the lead of the Italian race this spring and looked poised to score his second maglia rosa.
Yet Jai Hindley’s penultimate-stage surge on the Marmolda cracked the Ecuadorian’s hopes and robbed Ineos of a third-straight Giro title.
Seeing Hindley on the roads of the Vuelta this month may bring back bad memories. Jumbo-Visma’s Vuelta captain Primož Roglič also edged Carapaz out of a grand tour when he effectively won the Vuelta on bonus seconds in 2020.
“There are many good and eager people at this Vuelta,” Carapaz said. “But it is clear that Roglic, as the winner of the last three editions, is the great favorite to repeat the victory. Hindley and Landa, of course, are two very tough rivals as was seen in the Giro.”
Ineos Grenadiers didn’t come to the Spanish tour short-handed this summer.
The grand tour dominator is facing the prospect of its first season without three-week victory since 2014 and is calling on riders of the caliber of Tao Geoghegan Hart, Pavel Sivakov, Ethan Hayter, and Dylan van Baarle to help spare its blushes.
“The idea is to fight for Richard Carapaz. He made a great start to the season and he’s our guy. Obviously, we have other riders who can also do well, but now he is our trump card,” Ineos sport director Xabier Zandio told AS. “We have a very good team, but mainly it will be to protect Carapaz.”
Carapaz is on the way to a top position at EF Education-EasyPost next season.
But after three years with Ineos Grenadiers, Carapaz is fully invested in the team’s “road decides” approach.
“We have a great team and the one that is better will be the one that can compete in the race,” he said. “In the Tour, it was already seen that there were several riders involved in the general classification until in the end, it was possible to fight for the podium with [Geraint] Thomas, who was the strongest.”
The confirmation of a high-profile three-season deal with EF Education-EasyPost on the very day the Vuelta rolled off the start ramp caused a stir last week.
Carapaz insisted a new contract and shift in allegiance hasn’t dampened his long-time personal ambition.
“I’m going to do my best to win this Vuelta,” he said. “Two years ago I was second and I would love to be able to improve on that result. That’s what I’ve worked so hard for.”