• Richard Carapaz is a fresh new face added to the Grand Tour pantheon. (Getty)Source: Getty
All hail, Richard Carapaz. The Ecuadorian's maiden grand tour victory is precisely what many of us needed as another Tour de France looms in the not-too-distant future.
Jane Aubrey

Cycling Central
4 Jun 2019 - 11:00 AM 

Despite his fourth place at last year's Giro, the 26-year-old managed to slip under the radar of the majority of the pundits in the lead up to the event, given the focus of his Movistar team's chances fell on the shoulders of Mikel Landa.

A bolter, like Carapaz, has been hard to come by in recent years - the exception being Tom Dumoulin's thrilling Giro victory in 2017. Away from the hit factory of Team INEOS, the largely known quantities of Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and even to some degree, the Yates brothers because they'll be around the mark, grand tours have become a bit of a procession.

Carapaz wins Giro to secure first Grand Tour title
Richard Carapaz rode a perfect race to fulfil his immense potential and become the first Ecuadorian rider to win a grand tour when he prevailed in the Giro d’Italia.

In part, the symptoms of boredom have been due to the parcours. The first week of the Giro resulted in plenty of discussion to that effect across its 1200km, which included a pair of time trials while crashes seemed to have the major bearing on GC.

Yet, everyone, including the peloton, knew that this year's parcours was more like Luciano Pavarotti easing himself into Nessun Dorma rather than the punch of Verdi's Libiamo, ne' lieti calici. Patience was the key but in a sporting world driven by 'on demand' the beauty of the grand tour journey is continuously up for debate and under threat.

In victory, Carapaz is just the third man from Latin America to have won a grand tour, following Colombia's Quintana and Luis Herrera who won the 1987 Vuelta a España after an epic battle with Laurent Fignon, Sean Kelly and Raimund Dietzen. Six years later, Carapaz came into the world.

For those of us with Ecuadorian friends who ride bikes, you'll know that one of the most significant issues facing the growth of cycling in the South American country, is that import taxes can be a barrier for purchasing a decent rig and that it's a sport that's not well-supported by authorities.

Many bikes get smuggled across borders in a bid to flout the system and talented cyclists like Carapaz need to find their way to Colombia to better their sporting futures. With Carapaz's victory on Sunday, Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno announced that those taxes will be a thing of the past and that the nation's cyclists will be "supported economically".

The final two stages of the Giro were also broadcast via open signal from ESPN after the government intervened, giving more Ecuadorian's the chance to cheer on their new sporting hero.

In his hometown of Tulcán, giant screens popped up around the city closing streets to traffic, filling parks and markets. A song, written by a local musician dedicated to Carapaz's efforts at the Giro in 2018, was sung with great heart by the thousands watching the action unfolding from Italy, it's lyrics - "Carapaz you are capable of winning once more…"

Richard Carapaz's victory at the Giro dÍtalia in 2019 is the storied cycling needed. It's one of hope and change.