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One bad day separated Richard Carapaz from a second Giro d’Italia title. While he had to pick himself up from the disappointment of stage 20 and celebrate his 29th birthday with an on the limit final stage time trial effort in case Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) slipped, the Ecuadorian can be satisfied with his three weeks in Italy.
“I don’t feel sad. The truth is I’m very happy,” was Carapaz’s reaction after the finish in Verona. “Over the years I’ve been a pro I’ve shown I can be at the highest level and this was no exception. Personally, I’m very, very, happy because it’s a great second place in the Giro d’Italia.”
“Only one rider can win, so I make do with second place. While I’m still around, I’ll keep trying to win. The most important thing is that I marked my birthday doing what I love most.”
Rumours emerged during the Italian Grand Tour concerning Carapaz’s future. His current deal with the Ineos Grenaiders is up at the end of the year and discussions with potential suitors will have already begun ahead of the transfer season opening on August 1.
This most recent second-place marks the Ecuadorian’s third Grand Tour podium with the British squad, following his runner-up spot at the 2020 Vuelta a España before third at last year’s Tour de France. Only two other Ineos riders have made the podium of a Grand Tour this decade, Egan Bernal and Tao Geoghegan Hart in their victorious Giri.
With Egan Bernal’s rehabilitation from serious injury ongoing and Tao Geoghegan Hart still with a point to prove as to whether he can become a consistent Grand Tour performer, Carapaz is the team’s pre-eminent GC rider of the moment. While the team’s youthful prospects show heaps of promise, most obviously Tom Pidcock, there is a way to go as they work towards breaking through as Grand Tour riders and contenders.
Richie Porte will retire at the end of the year while Adam Yates has been linked with a transfer back to BikeExchange-Jayco, giving Ineos more room to compete financially with other parties that are circling. A potential return to Movistar is said to be on the cards, the Spanish team looking to fill the Alejandro Valverde-shaped hole that will emerge at the end of this year. Arkéa-Samsic is another squad reportedly interested, with Nairo Quintana’s contract up at the end of the season.
As Carapaz’s stock continues to rise, the Ecuadorian’s focus remains on getting even better, turning these second and third places into the top step of Grand Tour podiums.
“There are many things that I have to keep working on,” Carapaz elaborated on his 2022 Giro. You win and you lose. The truth is, this isn’t a bad thing. This will give me strength to come back again.”
The next chance will come while he will definitely still be in Ineos kit, with Carapaz set to lead the team at the Spanish Grand Tour later this year.
“Now I have a second objective: the Vuelta,” Carapaz said, who will not be part of the Ineos Grenadiers’ plans for next month’s Tour de France. “But first I need to have a break.”