Late on Friday Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) expressed a quiet satisfaction at his squad limiting their losses to a scant 13 seconds on winners Jumbo-Visma in the Vuelta a España’s opening team time trial.
On a day when the Dutch team proved to be a level above all the other formations, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl were the only other squad to come remotely near Jumbo-Visma, losing 14 seconds, while BikeExchange-Jayco were adrift by more than double that time.
Ineos Grenadiers also succeeded in placing Ethan Hayter in the lead of the Best Young Rider’s competition, and if a repeat of their victory in the 2016 opening TTT of the Vuelta proved out of reach, the British squad nonetheless still delivered a very solid performance all round.
“We’re pleased with the start of this Vuelta, we knew it was a difficult beginning and we got through the day very well,” Carapaz told reporters afterwards.
“The team’s been here for a few days, we’ve been able to practice doing the circuit today and we knew that the start was quite complicated and where it was most dangerous.
“But the boys got off to a very good start and it’s great to be up there in the fight from the word go.”
Carapaz has been in Ecuador training well at altitude and targeted the Spanish Grand Tour for this year's calendar.
“Doing well in the Vuelta this year was something I wanted to try to do since I talked it through with the team after the Tour last summer," he said.
“And then we did a good Giro and the chance of doing the Vuelta this autumn was something we didn’t want to let go by.”
As a group of noisy South American fans cheered him loudly in the background, Carapaz said he was not exactly looking for a kind of sporting revenge after losing the 2022 GIro d’Italia almost on the last day. But he did not deny that he wanted to see if he could put that defeat behind him for good in the Vuelta.
“I was going for Grand Tours this year, and it was a satisfactory result in the Giro, but you still have a bit of a hard feeling afterwards,” he said. ”But the Vuelta has a lot of opportunities for me and lots of summit finishes and that suits me well and I want to make the most of it."
However, he denied that he was specifically looking to beat Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) following his Giro defeat, saying, “there are lots of rivals here who will be fighting for the podium.”
As for his change of team to EF Education-EasyPost in 2023, news of which broke officially on Friday, Carapaz said the reasons for his moving on were that, “I’ve learned a lot here in Ineos Grenadiers and they’ve treated me really well here. But it’s time to move on, for my personal objectives.
"Right now, though I want to concentrate on being here in the Vuelta and seeing what I can do here.”
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