- Richard Carapaz won the 2019 Giro d’Italia on Sunday, finishing 1:05 a head of Vincenzo Nibali and 2:30 over Primož Roglič.
- Carapaz took the lead after attacking on Stage 14, defending it all the way through race’s final week in the mountains.
- With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Carapaz is now a hot commodity on the transfer market.
Movistar’s Richard Carapaz won the 2019 Giro d’Italia after holding tough to his lead during the race’s final week. In doing so, the Ecuadorian became only the third South American (and of these, the first from outside Colombia) to win a Grand Tour.
Despite riding in only his fourth three-week stage race, the 26-year-old Carapaz raced like a seasoned contender, managing his rivals-and a potential rivalry with teammate Mikel Landa-with relative ease. Though barely mentioned as a pre-race favorite despite finishing fourth last year, Carapaz is now a Grand Tour champion, and a hot commodity on this season’s transfer market.
The final week opened with two mountain stages, both of which gave Carapaz a chance to put some time between himself and his rivals. Raced in terrible conditions, Stage 16 went over the infamous Mortirolo climb, on which he and Vincenzo Nibali gained almost a minute on Primož Roglič, our initial overall favorite who dominated the Giro’s first week. Giulio Ciccone, who went on to win the climber’s polka dot jersey, ultimately won the stage.
Nans Peters escaped from his breakaway companions to win Stage 17, with Carapaz and Miguel Angel Lopez, who won Best Young Rider this year, sneaking away from the General Classification group to steal a handful of seconds from Nibali and Roglič.
Stage 18 was supposed to be for the sprinters, but Damiano Cima took an exciting win, holding off chasers after spending much of the day in the breakaway. (In all, Cima spent almost 1,000K of the Giro on the attack.) Pascal Ackermann finished second, essentially clinching the Points Competition in the process.
Then the race hit the Dolomites, offering two final chances for riders hoping to unseat Carapaz and distance themselves from Roglič. Stage 19 went to Esteban Chavez, a former Giro podium finisher who spent the last 12 months recovering from a virus. The GC contenders finished together, with no one gaining significant time on the rest.
Saturday’s final road stage looked like the day that Nibali would throw everything he had at Carapaz, but in the end the Italian appeared more concerned with hanging onto a podium finish. Movistar set a ferocious pace in the final half of the stage, protecting Carapaz while discouraging any attacks. After they dropped Roglič before the foot of the day’s final climb, Nibali looked at Carapaz and Landa as if to say, “I’m done.” In the end, Pello Bilbao won his second stage of the race, and Carapaz-who gained another 50 seconds on Roglič-the Giro.
Sunday’s final stage, a 17K individual time trial around Verona, was a mere formality for Carapaz. Nibali actually finished faster than Roglič to hold onto second place, while Roglič jumped over Landa to finish third. The stage went to a American Chad Haga, who set the fastest time early in the day and had to spend more than two hours waiting to see if anyone would beat it. They didn’t.
While it’s hard to boil a three-week race down to a single event, Carapaz’s attack 3K from the summit of the Colle San Carlo, the penultimate climb of Stage 14, might have been the moment that decided the Giro. Had Nibali reacted, he probably could have taken his third Giro. Instead he chose to mark Roglič, with whom he had been feuding via the press for several days, and Landa, the Giro’s best climber who mounted a powerful attack the day before. Had Nibali considered Carapaz a threat and covered his acceleration, he might not have lost more time to the Movistar rider. Credit Carapaz for taking advantage of every opportunity presented to him and using the strength of his team (and the hubris of his rivals) to his advantage.
Among the GC contenders at the Giro this year, only Nibali plans to ride the Tour de France. We wonder how he’ll fare against fresher riders, like four-time champion Chris Froome and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, as well as Tom Dumoulin (if he heals from a crash during the Giro’s first week). We likely won’t see Carapaz again until the Vuelta a España at the end of the summer.
First, though, is the matter of his contract. Team Ineos, formerly Team Sky, is rumored to have its sights on Carapaz, but that could change if Movistar saves money with the departures of Landa (rumored to be joining Bahrain–Merida) and Nairo Quintana (rumored to be heading to Arkea–Samsic). Otherwise, all eyes are now on the Tour de France, with the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 9-16) and Tour of Switzerland (June 15-23) serving as the final venues where riders can test and show their form before July.
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