Richard Carapaz, Wout van Aert et Tadej Pogacar.

The Ecuadorean became an Olympic cycling champion, ahead of Wut van Aert and Tadig Pujacar.

Ecuadorean Richard Carapaz won the gold medal in road cycling at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, defeating Belgium’s Wute van Aert and Slovenian Tadej Pujacar after a 234-kilometre mountain race. The former Giro winner, third in the Tour de France less than a week ago, crossed the finish line on his own after breaking in the final of a group of 12 riders. Van Aert takes the silver ahead of the Pogacar in the sprint race in the chase group.

The crowning of this royal podium, which features three of the best riders in the world, is a breed of strongman much like a mountain stage in the Tour de France. After being denied the opening ceremony and events in Tokyo, the Japanese public, who are permitted to come under certain conditions in this region of Japan, had scheduled a roadside appointment on Saturday. Thousands of people cheered for passengers on the 234-kilometer distance between Saitama (northeast of Tokyo) and the end of the Mount Fuji Motor Circuit, whose stands were nearly full.

The race settled as expected in the terrible Mikuni Pass: 10km with an average of 10.6% with lanes at 20%. From the first strong percentages, Pogacar, 22, launched an attack, causing the Peloton to explode definitively. He broke up for the first time, accompanied by 23-year-old great American detective Brandon McNulty, and Canadian Michael Woods.

But the trio was then captured by a group of seven men, and they climbed to the summit together. In the rough final, which led to the Mount Fuji racetrack (which F1 used once), Carapaz pulled out of the small pack with McNulty.

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Then he launched a decisive attack that left the American in place. Behind him, his pursuers stalled, leaving Wout van Aert to lead the chase alone. He crossed the line over a minute ago. Carapaz, the son of a farmer from the Andean highlands, presented in 2019 the first very big international win for his country, Ecuador, by winning the Giro d’Italia.

Cycling “is a sport that is rarely found in my country,” he said at the time at this light weight (1.70m, 62kg), that his physique and climbing qualities logically placed among the favorites at the Games.


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