The Ecuadorian triumphed in one of the three major cycling races, recording two stage victories and overcame a racer from the caliber of Vincenzo Nibali. Carapaz’ success guaranteed him a little over 300,000 euros from the prize pool and recorded his name in the history of cycling. Only a few years ago, however, everything seems so pink to the grown up in a modest family cyclist.
Carapaz’ star rose only a year ago, but at the moment the Ecuadorian is considered one of the newest stars in the sport, with a predictable bright future. His achievement is impressive, as he was the first Ecuador to win a tour, and only the third South American player after Colombian Nairo Quintana (Giro 2014, Vuelta 2016) and Lucio Erera (Vuelta 1987).
Start with a wheel from the dump
El Carmelo, in the province of Carci, is one of the most northerly populated settlements in Ecuador, right at the foot of the Andes. For all people born there about 3,000 meters above sea level, the only livelihood is animal watching and farming. The situation is no different for the Carapas family.
From a small young champion in Giro, he helps his parents and two older sisters. This, however, does not prevent his talent from being spotted, albeit by chance. The first bicycle that Carapas is driving and with which he begins his adventure has no tires.
“One day, our father went home with a broken bicycle – no tires, no seat or pedals, but Richie did it and started with him, and now we keep him in our home as a relic,” says Carpas Christina’s sister to AFP.
Carapas uses the bicycle to go around the area and sell milk – the main livelihood of the family. He very quickly displays his talents and is accidentally noticed by cyclists who attract him.
But only 15 years later, he has to leave briefly for cycling after his mother, Anna Lucia, gets ill with cancer. Meanwhile, Carapas must take care of the three cows that provide the whole family with food.
In the end, the young Ecuadorian career began to develop, and his first success was the title of the youth when he was only 17 years old. Three years later he won the title of the Pan-American Games, staying second in the Tour of Ecuador and Ninth in the Guatemala.
That’s where the Spanish professional Oscar Sevilla was spotted, who recommended it to teams from his homeland. They start to watch the young Ecuador, who in 2015 once again proves his qualities – won the Vuelta Haugendou, the most prestigious race in South America in the category of 23 years. Karapas is the first and only sole competitor born outside Columbia to win.
In 2016, Karapas receives an invitation from the Spanish team of Lisarte, who does not guarantee him either a permanent contract or a payment. “He did not hesitate for a moment, and told us he was leaving to pursue his dream,” said Carpas Christina’s sister.
A few months later, Karapas was drawn to the biggest Spanish team, “MOVISTAR”, with a trainee contract, which gives him the right to compete in the second half of the season, although he is not a pro. Equador impresses and quickly guarantees a permanent contract with the team.