Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) claimed a breakthrough victory for himself and for his country of Ecuador on Saturday, storming away from the rest of the field close to the summit of the Montevergine di Mercogliano for a fine solo win on stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia.
Just over a week after he was the first rider from Ecuador to start the Giro, then the first one to lead a classification as best young rider, the 24-year-old continued to ink his name in the history books with his first ever Grand Tour victory and Ecuador's first ever win in the Giro d'Italia.
After winning by seven seconds over the rest of the favourites on the summit of the second category climb, Carapaz is now lying eighth overall, boosting his lead in the young riders classification.
Carapaz already took his first career wins in Europe earlier this spring with a stage win and the overall in the Vuelta a Asturias. But this latest triumph in a WorldTour race represents a major step up for the young rider from Ecuador.
"I feel incredibly excited by this triumph, it's something every child dreams about when they start riding a bike," Carapaz said after crossing the line.
"I had good legs, and I knew if I reached the foot of the last climb as part a big group I would maybe have an opportunity if I jumped away close to the summit, not with a sprint.
"Fortunately, things worked out perfectly. I've worked very hard to get to this point in my career, and this was a great win for me."
Carapaz said that the 17-kilometre ascent of Montevergine had been rendered much more tricky with the rain, particularly on the hairpins, where it had been difficult to keep his balance. Fortunately, despite there being a big group at the foot of the climb, things calmed down towards the summit as the race split apart.
"I told the team car I was going to attack, I saw an AG2R rider jumping after Sky laid down an easier pace and I saw there was a good moment to attack with 2km to go. Once I jumped, I saw I had the legs to keep this pace until the finish, and it all turned out well."
Together with Carlos Betancur, Carapaz is co-leader of the Movistar squad and is currently their best-placed rider in the Giro d'Italia. Born in El Carmelo in the mountainous province of Carchi, his amateur cycling career was forged in Colombia given the lack of a grassroots cycling culture in Ecuador. Carapaz trained at altitude for a month in his home region before triumphing the Vuelta a Asturias, and then going on to the Giro a week later.
A gifted climber and stage racer, Carapaz finished 36th in last year's Vuelta a España, his first Grand Tour, where Movistar - bereft of both Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde as leaders for the Spanish Grand Tour - concentrated on working with their talented young riders with the long-term aim of developing them for future success. On stage 8 of this year's Giro, that strategy paid off in full.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 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. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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