The Olympic champion of Tokyo 2020, the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz, will arrive with 25 days of competition in the most important race in the world: the Tour of France, one of the competitions that he likes to run the most, according to his own words.
‘Richie’ has had a different start to the year, with a few days on the bike, with the title of national road champion just a few weeks ago and with an operation that forced him to a long recovery, from which he seems to be fully re-established.
The fans already miss Richard Carapaz, since the last time he raced in Europe was on September 11, 2022, in the last stage of the Tour of Spain, where he was crowned king of the mountains.
Since then, it took five months to see him on the bike on a race day. It was in the National Championship in Tulcán, where the “Locomotive” of Carchi took the title, after beating his friend Jefferson Cepeda.
If it were a normal year, Carapaz would already be in Europe competing and preparing for the Tour de France. But he is not. A tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils) forced him to stop and the recovery was not as expected.
In fact, that is why the man from Carchón did not defend the title in the individual time trial of the National Championship, because he did not arrive with enough days of training and wanted to fight for the gold medal in the road test.
Richard Carapaz and his new team, EF Education-EasyPost, have preferred to be prudent and prepare a cautious calendar before riding the Tour de France.
After winning the National Road Championship, ‘Richie’ stayed in Tulcán to complete his preparation, before leaving for Europe, where his rivals are already running. Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard, the two cyclists to beat in the Tour de France, have had a start to the year in style.
But ‘Richie’ does not despair and already has a preliminary calendar of competitions, with which he hopes to reach his peak of form to fight on the Tour.
Carapaz will start his European season on Wednesday, March 15, at Milano – Torino, a one-day race that takes place in northern Italy, on a 192-kilometre track, in which the carchense will only try to add minutes on the bike .
In addition, that day (March 15), Carapaz is scheduled to debut his current national champion shirt. The EF Education-EasyPost has not yet announced the design of the jersey that the ‘Locomotive’ will wear throughout the year.
Then, ‘Richie’ will go to the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, a seven-stage race, where last year he finished in second place and won an unforgettable stage, entering from the breakaway.
Carapaz’s third race in Europe will be the Itzulia Basque Country, one of the most beautiful competitions on the circuit, which is held in the Basque Country, in Spain. It will be six days of competition.
The fourth test of the ‘Locomotive’ in Europe will be the Amstel Gold Race, one of the most important classics, where last year it finished in 28th place. In this edition, 254 kilometers will be run.
A few days later, Carapaz will attend Liège-Bastoña-Liège, another of the world-renowned classics, where the Ecuadorian fought in 2022, but was disqualified for putting himself in an improper position on the bicycle.
And the last preparation race will be the Critérium du Dauphiné, a traditional eight-stage competition in France.
If we add the National Championship to these races, Richard Carapaz from Carchá would arrive at the Tour de France with 25 days of preparation. An important number if one considers that the 2022 Giro d’Italia came with 19 days of competition.
In all previous races, Carapaz will seek to add kilometers, minutes and adaptation to his new team. His main objective will not be to win these tests, but to fit in and get in the best shape, before riding the Tour de France, his great dream.
There are still some tests to be defined in May or perhaps a high altitude camp that the ‘Locomotive’ could do in Carchi or perhaps in Europe.
Carapaz and EF Education-EasyPost will try to put together the best team to surprise the big favorites on the Tour. For that, they have designed this preliminary calendar of competitions. Everything will depend on how the current Olympic champion feels.