Richard Carapaz Interview
With Team EF Education-Easypost having announced the team has signed Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz on a three-year contract, Roadcycling.com brings its readers an interview with Carapaz.
Ecuadorian Carapaz is currently concluding his 2022 season at the Vuelta a Espana for the British Ineos Grenadiers team for which he signed in 2022 and delivered General Classification podium finishes in the 2020 Vuelta a Espana, the 2021 Tour de France, and the Giro d’Italia 2022, thus showing remarkable consistency and team loyalty.
Arguably the most accomplished professional cyclist Ecuador has produced, Carapaz has competed in the WorldTour since 2016. In 2021 he won gold at the road race of the Tokyo Olympics and claimed the overall title at the Tour de Suisse. Carapaz is the defending national time trial champion of Ecuador but will need to further improve his performance in this discipline to be able to secure a Grand Tour victory for his new EF Education-Easypost team.
Despite a lengthy list of valuable race results, Carapaz says he is not done yet.
“When you conquer one thing, you want more. I’m one of those people who wants more,” Carapaz explains. “There are still things I haven’t achieved. I’d like to try to win another grand tour. A life goal has always been to win the Tour de France. It’s something I will fight for. I know it’s possible. I know what my potential is and what I can do, what I can achieve, and I’m fighting for this dream. Every day I get up with this dream inside me that I must try for. When I first started to ride in Ecuador, we knew about the grand tours of Europe. Eventually I thought I could win the Giro d’Italia and I’ve done that and now I’m focusing on the Tour de France.”
Carapaz got his start as a kid in the village of Playa Alta. A former professional cyclist who had raced in Europe set up a cycling club and Carapaz himself decided to join the club, hoping cycling would eventually become his way out of poverty.
“It wasn’t about cycling as a job then; it was simply something we did. We joined this cycling program which happened to be in my town, and we all signed up for it – (Jonathan) Caicedo, me, (Jefferson) Cepeda - and we all became professional cyclists from the same school. I started the sport when I was sixteen. Who in Playa Alta knew that it would become my job, let alone that I’d have such talent as a pro cyclist?” he ponders.
At the time, there was no clear path to get from Playa Alta, Ecuador to racing in Europe. 29-year-old Carapaz is eternally grateful for his family’s decisive support.
“My parents have always been there,” Carapaz says with a thankful smile. “When nobody believed in me, they were the only ones who believed. When I wanted to be a cyclist, there were limited opportunities in my country and they knew that if I wanted to achieve my dreams on the bike, I would have to go to Europe. For me that was an important step in my life, because here I could learn so much more. They had the same motivation for me to be here, too. We’ve all made sacrifices, so I want to do this well because I know the time I’ve spent away from them has to be worth it, it has to be for something memorable, something important like the Tour de France.”
While Carapaz looks to the future when he considers his own goals, he also looks to the future in a broader sense. He loves both Ecuador as well as cycling and wants to make sure that more of the cycling talent in his homeland can be given the opportunity to develop at the highest level.
“It’s really different, the cycling culture in Europe compared to Ecuador,” he says. “The history isn’t as long in Ecuador, but people have always been stepping on the pedals there. Honestly, professional cycling is not as well-known in my home country, people don’t know about the professional races. In Ecuador, people watch soccer, and many people have the idea that cycling is a sport you do as a hobby and it’s not a profession in itself. I want to make professional cyclist a job title my fellow Ecuadorians will consider and respect. Above all, I think, for the whole sport, you have to see the big picture. The sport of cycling is new in Ecuador. Yes, Ecuador have had good cyclists in past years, but they never made it to this level. Caicedo, Cepeda and I are some of the first in the history of our country to turn professionals. We hope it’s a positive change for our people, so there will be more Ecuadorian cyclists in the future.”
The decision to move from Team Ineos to EF Education-EasyPost was a logical one for Carapaz.
“EF Education is a team with a lot of ambition and many things it wants to achieve. I’m a puzzle piece that can fit really well into the team. I’m motivated and was looking for a team with the same objectives as mine. I have the needed focus, want to try to win the Tour de France and I think that’s something we can achieve together. The team wants to reach for its goals and that’s something very valuable to me. A team like this that wants to win a grand tour like me. This is something we will have to work a lot for because this is something that takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication, and that’s what this team has. I’m motivated to join the team to fight for this dream and the team has confidence in me, so we’re going to achieve all that we can together,” Carapaz explains.
With fellow Ecuadorians Jonathan Caicedo and Alexander Cepeda already part of the EF Education First – Easypost team, in some ways joining his new team is something of a reunion for Carapaz.
“I know them well, especially Caicedo,” Carapaz said. “We’ve known each other for many years because we grew up as part of the same cycling program, so I’ve known him, and we’ve trained together over the years. Actually, I was speaking with him a couple of months ago, with Jonathan, because there was the possibility that I’d come to the EF Education team, so we met up to talk. I think it’s been about seven years since we were on the same team. We were both on a Colombian team back then. And then I said to him, what a coincidence in life that we’re going to meet again on the same team. We were joking but now it’s become reality. Honestly, it’s really exciting. For me to be on a team with him who I’ve known for so many years and also with Alexander (Cepeda), too, who I’ve known since he was really young. I’ve seen his progress, how it’s going, so for me to join forces with him in a team is fantastic because I know he’s still in the process of developing as a rider and I can help him a lot. For me, I always love being with the guys I’ve known my whole life and to be on the same team makes me feel really at home.”