Richard Carapaz wins the Mercan Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes

Our Olympic champion showed his strength a month out from the Tour de France

May 30, 2023

Richie is back!

A month out from the start of the Tour de France, our Olympic champion won the mountainous French classic with a magnificent attack on the Col de Valberg.

After a huge effort from his teammates over the earlier climbs and a massive lead out up the final Alp's base, Richie went with seven kilometers left and flew up its rain-soaked switchbacks. Every time his chasers got close, Richie just gritted his teeth and accelerated, sitting, standing, and sprinting out of the corners to hold them off all the way to the summit, where he celebrated his second victory of the season with his arms aloft in the Ecuadorian national champion’s jersey that he won in February.

This victory is a testament to Richard Carapaz’s determination. After a difficult spring set back by illness, he has spent the past weeks high up in the Pyrénees, training hard to get ready for his great goal of the year: the Tour de France. The whole world now knows that he is on track.

“We did a great camp in Font Romeu with the team, and this is the result of the hard work we’ve done in those 15 days,” Richard says. “When you do things right, you have the power to show off what you’ve trained for.”

Richie’s win is also a testament to his teammates’ efforts. The Mercan Tour Classic Alpes-Martitimes is one of the most difficult one-day races in France. Held in the mountains in the country’s south, its 169.2-km parcours includes close to 5,000 meters of climbing, crossing La Colmiane, Col de la Couillole, and a first ascent of the Valberg via a different route before the final showdown up the Valberg's full slopes. Our team rode with one goal from the start to the finish.

In his first race back after breaking his wrist, Diego Camargo did an especially huge turn on the second last climb, before Mark Padun took over and dropped most of the contenders with his show of power. As soon as he pulled off, Richie took off. The Olympic champ exploded away from the leading group, and just kept increasing his pace every time it seemed like his rivals might claw him back. He crossed the line solo, his favorite way to win.

“I’m happy,” Richard says. “It’s important for me to give back the confidence the team puts into me. Today, everyone worked very hard and did a spectacular job. I think we showed off what we had, that we were confident with our plan, that we had somebody like me to finish it off in the best way possible. I think we’ve done everything on point today, and we are happy for the win.”

Sports director Sebastian Langeveld is very optimistic after this one. The team rode as one unit to pull off this victory.

“The plan at first was to just follow the race, because coming back from altitude, you’re never sure how good you actually are, so we didn’t want to take the race in control the whole day and then have somebody else take away the win, but during the race, Richard gave the okay that he was feeling good and we went super fast into the finale with a good position into the descent. It was raining and that was the plan: to go into the descent first as a team. Mark and Diego were really strong, and chapeau to Richard to hold that gap and be mentally as strong as he was, because that was a mental game. It was not easy. He was being chased down. He was more the rabbit than the fox. For him, it was a super nice sign heading into the Dauphiné and the build up towards the Tour. As a team we are super happy.”

Next up for Richie and his teammates is the Critérium du Dauphiné, which starts June 4. The eight-day French stage race is the traditional apértif for the Tour and a formidable event in its own right with a number of huge days in the Alps.

Bring on the summer. Richard Carapaz is back!

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