Ecuadorean Richard Carapaz was the first in his country to win a part of the famed Giro d'Italia - one of the cycling world’s Grand Tour races.
The 24-year-old from Ecuador won yesterday’s eighth round (out of 21) in five hours, 11 minutes and 35 seconds pedaling 209 kilometers from the Italian coastal city of Praia a Mare to the sanctuary in the town of Montevergine di Mercogliano located at 550 masl.
The young cyclist pulled ahead of the pack during the last kilometer of Saturday’s race phase, a major ascent in the 24-day contest that started in Jerusalem and ends in Rome May 27.
Just after crossing the finish line Carapaz told local media "I’ve worked really hard to get here." His wife Tania Rosero watched the competition, now in its 61st edition, from Ecuador by television along with their two kids, Santiago, 4, and Sofia, who is one year old.
"My dad can go as fast as I can on my scooter," Santiago, said after watching his dad win even under rainy conditions. Carapaz’s wife told local media that there was a caravan in celebration in Carchi - the province where he is from - to celebrate the Ecuadorean’s victory.
"With the times he was making here (in Ecuador) I was convinced he could win stages," said Jorge Montenegro, Carapaz’s trainer. "I told the boys that if they fight they could win their competition. And now (Carapaz) is showing it with his actions," added Montenegro.
Carapaz earned an impressive fifth during today’s competition, while first place went to Simon Yates of Britain.
"I had good legs at the end of the ascent. I had to try it from afar because I had few options to in order to win the sprint. I chose the right time," said Carapaz of his win yesterday.
"There’s still a long ride till Rome and I haven’t quite comprehended what I’ve gotten, even though it’s beautiful," said Carapaz.
The other Grand Tour races include the Tour de France and Vuelta a España.
Last month the Ecuadorean won the Vuelta a Asturias, a major racing competition in Spain.