Carapaz adamant a Tour de France win remains on the cards
Ineos Grenadiers challenger drops from third to ninth overall
The Tour de France stage 5 time trial was not "straightforward" for Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) but he was adamant that he still remains in the frame for the overall victory in Paris.
Neither one of the strongest or the weakest time trialists among the GC contenders, the 2019 Giro d'Italia winner did not have the best of days, finishing a hefty 1:44 behind stage winner and leading favourite Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on the 27-kilometre rolling course in western Normandy.
He has now slid from third to ninth overall and is 96 seconds behind the defending Tour de France champion.
However, the mountains are where Carapaz has always been at his strongest and with a recent victory in the Tour de Suisse already in his palmares and a gung-ho attitude no matter the terrain, there can be no ruling the Ecuadorian out of the GC equation despite Wednesday's damage-limitation exercise.
Carapaz was resolutely upbeat in his analysis of the TT when he faced a small thicket of TV cameras and microphones in one of the boxes in the post-stage media zone on Wednesday evening.
"The truth is we're very happy after the time trial, it was not an easy one, but we did it as well as possible," he insisted.
"We're here, we're in the fight, and I think we have to take away the positive factors about it all."
Carapaz favoured terrain in the mountains is just around the corner, after all, with the first Alpine stage on Saturday. It would also not be outside his skillset to give it a go on the very lumpy, tricky terrain featuring late on Friday's longest stage of the Tour, particularly given he is uninjured and largely unaffected by any of the early crashes, unlike several of his key teammates in the Ineos Grenadiers squad.
"For me, things are looking up and we've got some very tough stages to come," Carapaz argued.
"We've got a good team, and that's in our favour, we're still feeling positive and we're thinking about winning the race."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.
By Josh Croxton