Richard Carapaz won the 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday after winning two stages and leading the overall classification for seven. A dark-horse contender entering the race three weeks ago, he had only ever won a single stage race in his career: the minor-league, three-day Vuelta a Esturias. He now becomes the first Ecuadorian to win one of cycling’s three Grand Tours, with a final time of 90 hours, one minute, and 47 seconds.
Carapaz never put a foot wrong in 21 stages of racing. On Stage 4 he avoided a crash that took former winner Tom Dumoulin out of the race, and he went on to outride sprinter Caleb Ewan for the victory.
In the opening and Stage 9 time trials, he limited his losses to Primoz Roglic, who rode so brilliantly that many were ready to hand him the trophy then and there.
As the race entered the mountains, Carapaz and his Movistar team took advantage of the mutual fixation between Roglic and former winner Vincenzo Nibali and found ways to steal seconds at a time – first on Stage 13’s summit finish to Lago Serrù and, the following day, in a galloping breakaway that saw him finish almost two minutes ahead of the rest and netted him his second stage victory, as well as the overall lead in the race.
Movistar continued to use Carapaz’s teammate, Mikel Landa, who sat high in the overall classification, as a kind of foil, causing their rivals to wonder who the team’s real leader was, and forcing them to follow moves by either. If Landa rode off up the road, the likes of Nibali and Roglic would have to use their energy chasing him, while Carapaz followed in their slipstream. If Carapaz attacked, it was Landa who got the free ride.
Going into the final stage, a time trial in the Shakespearean city of Verona, Movistar had not only defended the lead they had gained in the mountains but had consolidated it, putting Landa into third place on the mountainous penultimate stage. Leaving the start house in the 17-kilometer time trial, Carapaz held a comfortable lead over Nibali, of almost two minutes. He would lose 49 seconds of that to the Italian, arriving in 36th place, but it was still more than enough to hold on to the win. (Landa, on the other hand, watched his 23-second advantage – and his third place overall – vanish to Roglic, who finished in 10th place.)
Meanwhile, the final stage was won by American Chad Haga, who took his first-ever victory in a Grand Tour. Haga was the 38th rider to start, at 2:22 in the afternoon. Sitting in front of the cameras almost three hours later, he looked nauseous as Roglic approached the finish line, and as Nibali arrived Haga was hunched over with his face in a towel. But none would trouble his time of 22 minutes and 7 seconds. (The nearest was fellow time-trial specialist – and current Hour Record holder – Victor Campenaerts, whose time Haga had already bested by four seconds.)
Meanwhile, the mountains classification was won in convincing fashion by Italian Giulio Ciccone, who contested nearly every climb in the race and won Stage 16 in the slow-motion uphill drag to Ponte di Legno.
The points classification, which awards riders for consistently finishing stages high up in the classification, went to Pascal Ackermann, who took the lead from an inattentive Arnaud Démare on Stage 18.
The competition for the best rider 25 years old or younger went to Miguel Angel Lopez, who finished in 7th place overall, a minute-and-a-half over fellow youngster Pavel Sivakov, who finished in an impressive 9th place.