“The big hope is to arrive to Madrid with this jersey,” Carapaz said Monday. “There is still a lot of Vuelta ahead of us, and it won’t be easy to do it. For me, this is all a bonus to defend this jersey.”
The 2019 Giro d’Italia champ is carrying a slender but promising lead 18-second lead over Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) into the second week of the Spanish grand tour. The Ecuadorian attacked in cold, miserable weather conditions Sunday on the road to Formigal to gap overnight leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), now in fourth at 30 seconds adrift.
With the grueling climbing stages at Farrapona and the Angliru looming this weekend, Carapaz said he’s ready to defend.
“The second week is going to mark the race,” Carapaz said. “The hardest part of the race is still yet to come. Even tomorrow’s stage will be hard. We will see in the coming days who is truly in the fight to win the race, and I expect the differences to be much bigger than they are now.”
With Ineos Grenadiers flying high following overall victory at the Giro d’Italia, the team will now rally around Carapaz to try to deliver its second grand tour of 2020.
Carapaz went on the attack during the Tour de France to save the team’s honor after team captain Egan Bernal pulled out, and helped Michal Kwiatkowski win the final mountain stage. With a strong team backing him at the Vuelta, Carapaz doesn’t want to let go of the leader’s jersey now that he has it.
“We prepared well for the Vuelta these past few months, training at altitude in order to arrive in optimum condition,” Carapaz said. “I’m very motivated, and the team is up for winning another grand tour this year.”