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The 2019 winner is finding it unexpectedly crowded at the top of the GC table, however, and instead of delivering an early knockout blow, Carapaz found some high-altitude traffic in the Giro’s first major summit finale.
Carapaz kicked to third in the stage and climbed from 12th to fourth overall, but the GC remains wide open.
“I missed a little luck in the sprint, but the sensations are good,” Carapaz said at the line. “We’ve gotten through the first week of the Giro and that’s very important. We are still in fight.”
As expected, Ineos Grenadiers turned up the heat on the final Blockhaus climb, with Ben Tulett, Pavel Sivakov, and Richie Porte taking turns to apply the pressure.
In a scene familiar to the “Fortress Froome” of the team’s heyday with Chris Froome, the team lined up to create a sort of “Carapaz carpet ride” up the steep summit.
Porte took huge pulls to stretch out the main GC group before Carapaz sprung free with just under 5km to go.
CARAPAZ ATTACKS 👊@RichardCarapazM escapes the GC group and takes Landa and Bardet with him.
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) May 15, 2022
Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) was the day’s main victim, but the likes of Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) could follow Carapaz. The trio plugged along yet seemed to lose steam near the top, allowing overnight leader Juanpe López (Trek-Segafredo) to stay close enough to eventually retain the leader’s jersey.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), stage-winner Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohë) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) also reconnected as the steepness of the climb eased near the summit.
Instead of Carapaz taking the stage win and the pink jersey, he found himself in a reduced bunch sprint.
Hindley opened up his sprint first coming out of the final corner, and fended off Bardet in second, with Carapaz crossing the line third.
The Olympic champion was swarmed by journalists at the finish line, and he wiped down before riding down to the team bus.
Carapaz said he bookends the first week of the Giro just where he wanted to be.
“For the team it was the intention to control the stage, and we did it,” Carapaz said. “We will keep fighting. I am happy with how the day went and now we look to the second half of the Giro.”
Ineos Grenadiers came to this Giro to win. So far, it has proven that it is the strongest team in the bunch, now Carapaz has half the Giro to prove he is the strongest rider.