Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz wins gold in thrilling men’s road race
Richard Carapaz won Ecuador’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Games with a brilliant ride in the men’s cycling road race.
The 28-year-old broke away in the final 10 kilometers on a brutally hot afternoon to drop the remaining challengers and earn only the second gold medal in Ecuador’s history.
Saturday’s race saw Carapaz, who finished in third place at the 2021 Tour de France, turn the tables on Pogacar, who came into this race as a big favorite after clinching his second Tour title less than a week ago.
The riders not only had to content with the sweltering heat, but also a grueling final climb up the Mikuni Pass, where the field really began to thin out.
The ascent featured 6.5 kilometres at 10.6% gradient, before the riders had to contend with a four-kilometer section with an eye-watering average gradient of 12%.
There was a sprint finish behind Carapaz to decide the remaining two medals, with Belgium’s Wout van Aert taking silver ahead of Pogacar in third by the narrowest of margins.
Former Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas crashed out early on and never really got back into contention, eventually retiring from the race.
The Welshman suffered another crash at the recent Tour de France, resulting in him needing his dislocated shoulder to be popped back in before continuing … ouch.
Thomas tweeted after the race that he is “all good” following what he described as a “freak crash.”
All good with me. Thanks for the messages!! Think I must have done something bad in a previous life🤦♂️ Freak crash, Tao lost his front wheel and decked it in front of me. I had nowhere to go, other than the floor as well🤷♂️
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) July 24, 2021