‘Expectations are a lot higher’: EF Education aims for the sky with arrival of Richard Carapaz

'We’re going to take on the top teams and try to win the biggest races in the world.' Can Carapaz change the game for US-based team?

Photo: EF / Chris Milliman

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It’s similar colors, wildly different ambitions for EF Education-EasyPost in 2023.

The team revealed Thursday the pastel pink uniform that new arrival Richard Carapaz and his teammates will wear in 2023 and sketched out some aim-for-the-sky targets for the newly refocused squad.

“Everyone understands that the expectations are a lot higher,” team chief Jonathan Vaughters said. “The standards are going to be a lot higher, because what we are striving for, the goals, are a lot higher.

“We’re going to take on the top teams in the world and try to win the biggest races in the world. You can feel it in everybody. There is a big change of spirit. It is game on.”

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EF Education-EasyPost is targeting a dramatic U-turn in 2023 after it was sucked into the scramble for WorldTour survival last year.

Newly signed Olympic and Giro d’Italia champion Carapaz brings the U.S.-based squad a podium-pushing grand tour presence. The team was only on the fringes of the fight for classification kudos in recent years and last hit a three-week podium finish with Hugh Carthy in 2020.

Mikkel Honoré, Stefan de Bod, and Carapaz’s wingman Andrey Amador are among a clutch more selected talent that also pulls on pink for the first time in 2023.

“We believe we can beat the best teams in the world in the biggest races in 2023,” the team’s press note stated.

“It’s a new era. We are EF Education-EasyPost, 30 riders, from 21 countries. Welcome to 2023. Game on.”

Can Carapaz change the game?

EF Education EasyPost went a little more pastel for 2023. (Photo: EF Education EasyPost)

Carapaz could reinvent EF Education-EasyPost in his three-year stay with the team.

The 29-year-old hit a grand tour podium every year since he won the Maglia Rosa in 2019 and more-than-successfully pivoted to stage hunting at last year’s Vuelta a España with a three-stage romp that delivered the KoM jersey.

Carapaz looks to be one of the rare few with a realistic chance of breaking the Tadej Pogačar-Jumbo Visma stranglehold on grand tour racing in the near future. He’s one of an elite club that includes the caliber of Remco Evenepoel, Jai Hindley, Simon Yates, and Geraint Thomas.

“Richard Carapaz raised our aspirations,” the EF team wrote.

“Richard has big goals and the motivation to match in 2023, and every single person in our organization is excited to support him because the Olympic champion and Giro winner races with grit and without fear. He dares to dream.”

Does EF Education-EasyPost have the back bench to make Carapaz’s dreams a reality?

With Carthy, Rigoberto Urán, Esteban Chaves, and rising sensations Andrea Piccolo and Nielson Powless also on the pink-liveried team bus, EF could be poised to punch back into the GC scene in 2023.

The team’s new signings for 2023 add the depth to support a classification push.

“Andrea Piccolo is one of the most exciting talents of his generation. Andrea has been turning heads with his daring, attacking style and is raring to capture a big win in 2023,” the press note said.

“Andrey Amador is committed to Richard Carapaz’s ambitions. We will count on the strong Costa Rican to be there for his friend at decisive moments and will learn all that we can from the veteran. Jefferson Cepeda was clubmates with Richard Carapaz when he was a kid. He’s ready to fly up the Alps like he and Richie do when they are home in the mountains of Ecuador.”

Carapaz’s calendar for 2023 remains unknown, but Vaughters already hinted at a Tour de France start for his new star in 2023.

Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard will be waiting.

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