Richard Carapaz confirms Giro defense

Carapaz likely to have sole leadership of Team Ineos with Froome, Bernal and Thomas racing the Tour de France.

New team, same ambition for Richard Carapaz. The 2019 Giro d’Italia champion has confirmed he will return to the race to defend his pink jersey this October.

The 26-year-old took his debut grand tour last year, the first-ever three-week victory for an Ecuadorian rider, and one of Movistar’s biggest results of the year. Carapaz is now riding for Team Ineos after his transfer this winter, and he’s placing the Giro front and center of his season.

“We’ve decided virtually all of my program,” Carapaz said Tuesday. “The Giro d’Italia is still my biggest goal,”

“I want to be at my very best for the Giro, so I can try to win it again and repeat the success of last year.”

With new teammates Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, and Chris Froome all piling into the Tour de France, Carapaz is likely to have free rein at the head of Team Ineos in Italy this year. With the Giro clashing with a key block of one-day races, overlapping the start of the Vuelta a España, and falling just two weeks after the Tour wraps up in Paris, many riders are still deciding their schedules for the year. However, Remco Evenepoel and Jakob Fuglsang have already confirmed their intention to be racing in Italy.

Carapaz has been waiting out the global coronavirus lockdown with his family at home in Carchi, Ecuador. His Giro victory last May elevated him to a national hero, in a similar way to the veneration of the likes of Bernal, Nairo Quintana, and Rigoberto Uran in neighboring Colombia.

“After I won the Giro, it was crazy times here in Ecuador,” Carapaz told Rai Sport. “People were very proud of me and identified with me. Everyone felt part of my success.”

“A lot changed for me and I became famous,” he said. “It was not easy to deal with at first, but I try to see the benefits. The young talents in my cycling school are doing well. The country is changing and everyone dreams of success.”

Carapaz will be hoping to stoke the dreams of his nation even further in Italy this October 3 – 25.