Dark horse Carapaz hails 'biggest moment' after Giro triumph
Richard Carapaz has emerged from the shadows of cycling's big guns after winning the Giro d'Italia, or the Tour of Italy, on Sunday, riding into Verona's ancient Roman Arena to seal his first ever Grand Tour victory in the final-day time trial.
Even though the final stage was won by American Chad Haga on Sunday, the 26-year-old rider from the Movistar Team conquered the overall win to become the first Ecuadorian to win the Italian match, one of the sport's three major tours in the world. The other two are Tour of France and Tour of Spain.
Carapaz dominated the second half of this year's race, particularly in the mountains, claiming the coveted pink jersey in just his third full season as a professional rider after starting the race as a support rider for teammate Mikel Landa.
"This is the biggest moment of my sporting life," said the rider from Playa Alta, high in the mountains of northern Ecuador near the border with Colombia.
"In this final time trial, I just suffered from start to finish until I reached the arena of Verona. It's fabulous to win the Giro d'Italia."
Carapaz had remained under the radar for much of the race, particularly after having lost time with mechanical problems on stage three, and second-placed Vincenzo Nibali of Italy conceded it had been a mistake to underestimate the Ecuadorian given his fourth-placed finish last year.
"Without a doubt, we made the mistake of giving him too much space," conceded two-time former winner Nibali.
The Sicilian, nicknamed the "Shark," had focused too much on Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who finished third overall, after the Team Jumbo–Visma rider's strong start to the season and early success on the Giro.
Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin, the winner in 2017, dropped out of the race after a fall in the first week, with defending champion Chris Froome of Britain not competing.