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Vuelta a Espana

Richard Carapaz blazes to second stage win in three days at Vuelta a España: ‘I tried not to lose hope’

Ecuadorian climber wins on perfectly timed winning attack at La Pandera.

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JAEN, Spain (VN) – Richard Carapaz is making up for GC disappointment with a deluge of stage victories at the Vuelta a España.

Just two days after winning at Peñas Blancas, the Ineos Grenadiers climber known as the “locomotive from Carchí” was lighting up the rails in Saturday’s grueling finale up La Pandera.

Carapaz fought into the day’s breakaway, and then fended off the chasing GC favorites to win a second stage at the Vuelta by just eight seconds.

That was plenty of time for Carapaz to celebrate another big win.

“This is wonderful because it was a very hard fought stage today,” he said. “I left the bus very determined to fight for the victory, and I spoke to the team to help me get into the break because a lot of people were marking me.”

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With his red jersey hopes gone in the Vuelta’s first week, Carapaz “changed the chip” to hunt for stages in the back half of the Spanish grand tour.

“I came here hoping to fight for the GC, but I had problems at home,” said Carapaz, without providing more details. “I started a new role to help others on my team, hoping that I could find some legs. If you had told me I’d end up winning two stages, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Rather than rest on his laurels following a big ride up Peñas Blancas on Thursday, Carapaz snuck into Saturday’s winning breakaway after an intense fight among the stage-hunters to ride into the move.

The GC teams started pulling behind, in part to put pressure on overnight leader Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).

Carapaz used all of his racing acumen to finish off the breakaway and fend off the chasing GC favorites led by Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qasaqstan).

“In the end, I could get in the break and there was a good understanding in the group, and we opened up a good gap,” Carapaz said. “I knew this climb because I did it a few years ago, and to win here is just incredible.”

The Olympic road champion dug deep to drop the remnants of the day’s breakaway on the final, grueling climb at La Pandera, a climb that Carapaz raced up during the 2017 Vuelta.

“Since I knew how the climb was, I knew that if I could get to that final hump with 10-15 seconds I could win,” Carapaz said. “I knew the climb well, and I tried to climb at my own pace without losing hope because I knew it was a complicated climb.”

The victory comes as a salve for Carapaz, who rode to second at the Giro d’Italia in May, but suffered a crash while preparing for the Vuelta last month.

After suffering through “bad sensations” in The Netherlands and into northern Spain, Carapaz knew his best strategy would be giving up on GC, and hunting stages. Though he’s punched back into the top-20, he’ll keep riding for the breaks.

“It’s a great stage, quite important for my palmarès, and for me. Above all, it gives a lot of morale,” he said. “I wanted to be in front and seize the moment. Tomorrow is also a stage that I know very well, I have been living nearby for many years, so I know the territory and we will try it, why not?”