Richard Carapaz is looking to set up a cycling team in his native Ecuador, according to reports.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider is said to be establishing a group of Ecuadorian and Colombian riders to compete as a Continental-level outfit.
According to Marca Colombia, the team could be set up for the 2022 season, although there are only a couple of months to get things off the ground.
Carapaz won the Giro d'Italia in 2019, was runner-up at the Vuelta a España in 2020, and was third at the Tour de France this year, ticking off the Grand Tour podium set in as many years. He went on to become Olympic champion in the summer and, as such, his popularity has skyrocketed, especially in South America.
He was recently revealed as the sixth most 'followed' men's rider on social media, has has his own brand and clothing range, and is reportedly looking to use that profile to set up a new team.
The aim would be to help develop cycling in Ecuador and allow others to follow in his footsteps. However, the team is also said to have a Colombian element, with Carapaz spending many of his formative years over the border, where the cycling scene is far stronger.
Other riders to create teams during their racing careers include Alberto Contador, who launched the Fundación Contador set-up that has now grown into the second-division Eolo-Kometa team. Mikel Landa, meanwhile, was heavily involved in the Fundación Euskadi project that saw the rebirth of Euskaltel-Euskadi, although the Basque rider had to step down earlier this year due to a perceived conflict of interest.
Carapaz ended his season when he withdrew from the Vuelta a España on stage 14 and is now back in Ecuador, where he plans to ride the Vuelta a Ecuador in December.
He will have a leading role in Ineos' Grand Tour plans for 2022, although it remains to be seen how he, Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates, and Tao Geoghegan Hart divide up the calendar.
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