Richard Carapaz rode away from the biggest names in cycling to win the Olympic road race Saturday, giving Ecuador its first medal in the sport in one of its marquee events on the first full day of the Tokyo Games.
You can rewatch Tokyo Olympics Men’s Road race HERE
Carapaz pulled away from American breakaway buddy Brandon McNulty as they approached the finish at Fuji International Speedway. He slapped his handlebars in celebration as he crossed the line.
The chasing group rounded the corner in sight of him at the finish line, then played a game of cat-and-mouse for the other two medals. Wout van Aert wound up edging Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia in a photo finish.
“It is incredible to see your flag as the top one, and to have this medal,” said Carapaz. “I simply waited for my moment. It was a bit of a crazy day, and a very hard race. I had to be patient as the selections were being made and wait for the right moment – that for me was the most complicated part.”
Carapaz is only the second Ecuadorean to win an Olympic gold after Jefferson Perez in the 20km walk at Atlanta 1996.
It was an attritional day of racing in temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius and with suffocating humidity.
Thankfully the race was spared the big crashes that marred the road races at the Rio Games five years ago, though Britain’s Geraint Thomas, one of the medal favourites, hit the tarmac hard in an early incident and eventually pulled out with 50km left.
Grande #Carapaz 🥇🥇🥇 pic.twitter.com/TJJQm7nfto
— rodauce (@rodaucE_gmc) July 24, 2021