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Carapaz: ‘I want to return to the Giro, it changed my life’

Ecuadorian eager to return to the Italian grand tour with new team, possibly to start alongside Geraint Thomas

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The 2020 route is still to be unveiled, but Richard Carapaz already says he wants to return to the Giro d’Italia to defend his title.

The Ecuadorian will help lead Team Ineos next year, switching from Movistar. The plans have not been written down, but he is putting his hand up for the Italian grand tour that changed his life. Ineos will also need to determine the plans of their other stars, a rich list that includes Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Egan Bernal.

“Yeah, I want to go back,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview over the weekend

“We haven’t talked about it yet with the new team, but the desire is to return.”

Today, he closes out his season with Milano-Torino in Italy. Also in the race, his future team-mate Egan Bernal. Carapaz gave Ecuador its first grand tour victory and Bernal this summer gave Colombia its first Tour de France victory.

The idea is that Froome will recover enough from his broken leg to race for a fifth Tour title in July alongside defending champion Bernal. Thomas would race alongside Carapaz in the Giro, which starts on May 9 in Budapest.

Organizer RCS Sport will announce the route October 24. Early rumors indicate it will include three time trials, one starting the race, one ending it in Milan on May 31, and another long one in Abruzzo or near Treviso to Valdobbiadene in week two.

“I’m going to wait at least until I see the routes for the Giro and the Tour and then go from there,” said Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France champion.

“If I did the Giro, it would still certainly excite me and get me out of bed in the morning.”

Ineos/Sky pulled off its first Giro d’Italia win in 2018 with Chris Froome, but it has never taken a super-team to the Italian race as it has done in France for the Tour. Rigoberto Urán, Bradley Wiggins, Richie Porte, and Mikel Landa all tried. Even when Froome won, it was due to a last-ditch effort on the second-last mountain day and the team lacked a plan B.

For 2020, with a super-charged team, it can have reliable plan Bs in the first two Grand tours: Thomas/Carapaz in Italy, and Froome/Bernal in France.

“That Verona day. No doubt. I’ll never forget it,” said Carapaz reflecting on when he time trialled into Verona’s Arena to confirm his overall title.

“It’s an image that I always have in mind: I finish the final time trial, I raising my head in the arena. I look … and I see thousands of people. And many flags of Ecuador. Unbelievable.

“Impressive. Really impressive [returning home]. The nation had stopped, as if paralyzed. For me. Never before had a cyclist achieved such an important success. They made me feel like a hero.

“Sure [it was life-changing]. Above all in the sense that if now I express a certain opinion, it has a certain weight. It wasn’t like that before. I am listened to, the repercussion of my words is great. Besides the fact that I am more recognized, they ask me for photos and autographs, things like that. Both in Ecuador and in Pamplona.”

He talked about the problems, the protests at home against President Lenín Moreno. “Politically, it’s as if my country was returning to the past,” he said. “The economic crisis that we are going through is quite serious. I am worried, I hope all this can be solved”.