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Tour de France: Carapaz convinced Pyrenean stages will be 'very favourable'

Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers during stage 14 of Tour de France
Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers during stage 14 of Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) says he is heading into the Pyrenees convinced that the 2021 Tour de France’s longest segment of high mountains racing will play out in his favour.

Carapaz slipped to sixth overall on Saturday’s incursion into the Pyrenean foothills as French outsider Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) made it into the day’s breakaway and soared up to second place on GC.

But despite the rollercoaster nature of the battle for the podium every day the Tour hits the mountains, the Ecuadorian says he is in his element in this kind of no-holds-barred, uncontrolled racing. 

As an increasingly serious heatwave continues to affect the Tour, with the thermometer hitting the mid-30s on Saturday, Carapaz revealed he had been deliberately trained in very different weather conditions in order to ensure he’d have fewer problems adapting to sudden spikes or falls in outdoor temperature.

“Today [stage 14] was a good day for us. There were a lot of attacks early on and it was a very explosive start,” Carapaz said. “The break took a long time to go and it was very tough.

“It’s a very aggressive Tour, we’re going fast every day. So it’s a bit different to the others Grand Tours I’ve done.

“But that’s modern-day cycling, and I like it. This kind of aggressive racing is actually similar to how I used to race back in Ecuador in lower categories, where the strongest rider always wins.”

Twentieth on the stage in the main group of contenders, Carapaz said he is eagerly anticipating the race’s arrival in the main body of the Pyrenees on Sunday, this includes a mid-stage ride over the Envalira, at 2,408 metres above sea level the high point of the 2021 Tour.

“There’s going to be the question of altitude and the question of heat,“ Carapaz said. "But I’m used to altitude, so I won’t have a problem with that.” 

Apart from living in Andorra when in Europe, Carapaz's family home in Ecuador is at more than 3,000 metres above sea level. Then there’s the issue of the heat, but Carapaz is not troubled by that either. 

“These temperatures are similar to what I’ve raced in before,” he pointed out. “And I’ve been training in different places in these kinds of different temperatures, to try and and get used to them so my body won’t have a problem with that."

As for the Pyreness in general, Carapaz argued that overall they should be "very favourable for my interests.” 

As for Sunday’s stage 15, with the Envalira and that altitude factor, “that  is one of the most important of them all.”

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.