Giro d’Italia leader Richard Carapaz: When I attacked, I thought that no one would come back

Three years on from breakout Giro victory, Carapaz is back in pink, but the Ecuadorian admits that he was surprised by the strength of rivals.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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TURIN, Italy (VN) – Just as he did in 2019, Richard Carapaz took the race leader’s pink jersey on the 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia, but the Ineos Grenadier admitted after the finish of a helter-skelter stage around Turin that he was surprised by the strength of his rivals, particularly Bora-Hansgrohe, whose aggressive approach resulted in 2020 Giro runner-up Jai Hindley moving up to second on GC, just seven seconds behind the Ecuadorean.

Bora’s pressing began before the riders had reached the first of two circuits around Turin, and led to Carapaz being isolated from his Ineos teammates.

“Today was a tough stage. Bora was very aggressive and we didn’t expect it. After the downhill the peloton split and some of my teammates were behind, but I like it when the race is very fast,” Carapaz said.

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He suggested that the British team had been outfoxed by Bora, but would quickly rebound.

“We had a plan at the beginning of the day, but Bora surprised us. Tomorrow will be very different. The climbs are going to be longer and we will have to defend the maglia rosa,” he said.

On the plus side, he added, Bora’s aggression softened up many of the race’s leading contenders and, ultimately, paved the way for Carapaz making a sizzling attack on another extremely hot day with 28 kilometers remaining.

“Bora’s forcing was very important and I knew that a lot of riders were on the limit. I was well placed to select the moment to attack and I think it was a good move because many riders ended up losing some time,” he said.

Carapaz confessed that he was surprised that, first of all, Hindley, then Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali and, finally, BikeExchange’s Simon Yates managed to bridge up to him.

“When I attacked, I thought that no one could come back. So I didn’t expect Hindley and then some other riders to get back to me,” said the Ecuadorean, who added that he was glad to be back in pink three years on from his last spell in the Giro leader’s jersey and predicted that his defense of it would be “very, very demanding.”

Ineos team director Matteo Tosatto told VeloNews that their plan for the day had been simple: to gain time on GC.

“I said to the team yesterday that today was like a classic. The race was super-fast at the start and Bora took control, but I think Richard was very good, attacking on the Superga on the second circuit,” said the Italian.

“He just needed another two-three Ks more on the descent to fully recover for the steep climb that followed. Now we have to look at the last week because it’s very hard. I think today is the end of the first big block of the Giro,” Tosatto said.

“The jersey’s special every time you have it, although it does bring more responsibility. But the plan for us is to have the pink jersey in Verona,” he added

Tosatto said that he was surprised by Bora’s strength and congratulated the German team on their performance.

“They’re a super strong team and today they took responsibility, so chapeau to them for that. But I think Bora, UAE, Astana with Nibali and also Bahrain are super strong. As I said, the Giro really starts tomorrow,” he said.

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