07/24/2021 9:53 AM
Updated 07/24/2021 9:55 AM
"It's the best thing that could happen to me in my life."
Thus, with just 10 words,
the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz
explained everything he feels after having achieved the second Olympic gold medal in the history of his country by winning the road cycling event.
"In my country now they will be crazy because it is the second gold in their history. We have waited 24 years. It is special because it is the first in this sport, cycling," explained the runner of the powerful
, one of the leading teams of world cycling.
Carapaz, who equals the gold achieved by his compatriot
Jefferson Pérez in the 50-kilometer march of the 1996 Atlanta Games
, entered the finish line alone after escaping from the group of favorites by just over 20 kilometers, surpassing Belgian
and the winner of the Tour de France, the Slovenian
, who completed the podium after a disputed sprint.
Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz celebrates his victory in the road cycling event at the Tokyo 2020 Games this Saturday.
Photo: EFE / Enric Fontcuberta
"I didn't have a team like others, it was just Johnny (Jonathan Narváez) and me. We had the confidence, we have a lot of experience of having raced in Europe. The final pass was the most complicated moment, it started to climb very fast, there were attacks, We had to be patient for the selection to be made and wait for the good moment, "he said.
"I think I had a very good escape partner (the American Brandon McNulty). I took advantage of the fact that he rolled very well on the flat and the moment we saw that we had 20 seconds we knew that the medals were at stake. We went to bottom on the small slope and on the descent. When I got here to the circuit I continued and he stayed, "continued the 28-year-old cyclist.
When Carapaz arrived at the Fuji circuit he was being chased by a group of important riders from the peloton;
with Van Aert, Pogacar, Bauke Mollema (who was 4th), Rigoberto Urán (8th) or Adam Yates (9th).
Wout van Aert, Richard Carapaz and Tadej Pogacar, silver, gold and bronze in the road cycling event.
"When I arrived I was aware of whether I had enough time to win. I had my doubts because there were a lot of good people behind. At the end I had good legs and the 30 seconds I had I kept them. The last six kilometers I have done at full speed. because I knew I could get there, "explained the winner of the Giro d'Italia in 2019.
Finally Carapaz had the luxury of entering the finish line alone and raising his arms as the first Latin American to win the gold medal in road cycling.
"It has been an incredible moment. I dedicate it to my country, you have to believe. I have worked hard to get here, I am enjoying it, it is something very big for me. Just thank you for your support," he concluded excitedly.
Richard Carapaz ran away with American Brandon McNulty, who finally couldn't keep up.
"There was someone stronger than me. My goal was to get to the sprint, but getting the silver is something very special," acknowledged Van Aert.
"I am very happy for this race. Winning the bronze medal in the Olympic Games I cannot even describe it," added Pogacar.
Straight to the story
Ecuador only had two Olympic medals so far, both won by Pérez, who also hung the silver in Beijing 2008.
Undoubtedly, Carapaz's gold is one of the great feats in the history of Ecuadorian sports, comparable to Pérez's two medals, the title at Roland Garros by Andrés Gómez (1990) or the Copa Libertadores won by the Quito League in 2008 .
The rider from Carchi had already written another page for the Ecuadorian sport last Sunday, when he finished third in the Tour de France, being the twentieth cyclist to make the podium in the three great stage tours (first in the 2019 Giro and second in the Tour of Spain 2020).
Jefferson Pérez, the other Olympic gold medalist for Ecuador, on the podium at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Despite being outnumbered (only two Ecuadorian cyclists competed) and with Belgium, Italy, Spain or Slovenia as favorites for the medals, the race was decided in the last 50 km of the demanding Olympic route.
On the ascent to the Mikuni Pass (10km uphill at 10.6% of average unevenness and ramps of up to 20%) the pace imposed by the Italians left the head of the race formed by just a fortnight of runners, with Carapaz, the Colombian Rigoberto Urán and Argentine
- in the end he left due to problems with his bicycle and will race again on Wednesday in the time trial - as Latin representatives.
The phenomenal Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, two-time Tour de France champion, had to settle for bronze.
About 24 km to the finish line, installed in the Fuji International Speedway motoring circuit, in the ascent to the last level of the day, the Kagosaka Pass, the American Brandon McNulty attacked and took Carapaz to his wheel, crowning both with almost a thirty seconds ahead of the chasing group.
Despite Pogacar and Van Aert leading the hunt, Carapaz and McNulty got on well and increased the lead to 45 seconds with 15km to go.
Van Aert, who was exhibited in the last Tour winning a high mountain stage, a time trial and the final sprint in Paris, came to put the pursuers only 16 seconds away with 10 km still remaining to the goal, but the lack of understanding in that group he favored the escapees.
On the outskirts of the circuit, in a false flat uphill, Carapaz left McNulty and the Ecuadorian arrived alone to take the gold.
Despite the time difference with Japan since it was early morning in Ecuador, the Minister of Sports Sebastián Palacios quickly congratulated the rider through social networks: "THANK YOU RICHARD! HISTORICAL !!!!! ECUADORIAN PRIDE !!!!", wrote.
THANK YOU RICHARD!
ECUADORIAN PRIDE !!!!
- Sebastián Palacios 🇪🇨 (@SebasPalaciosSP) July 24, 2021
The final podium of this event, with three of the best cyclists in the world and the most outstanding in the last Tour de France, attests to the toughness of the circuit proposed by the organizers, with five mountain passes, including the iconic Monte Fuji at the equator of the route, 4,865 meters of negative slope (more than the queen stage of the last Grande Boucle) and with a suffocating climate, with more than 32 degrees of temperature and very high humidity.
The complete agenda of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: day by day, the calendar of all disciplines
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medal table: minute by minute, live