The Carapaz Effect

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente ‘JV’ Araneta (The Freeman) - June 10, 2019 - 12:00am

I would have loved to write about the winer of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, Richard Carapaz. There’s not a lot of information about Carapaz on the web, maybe there are plenty but it’s in Spanish, which I don’t know about.

I really don’t know Carapaz that was that well and my regard for him was that he was just a domestique fodder, a young talented rider from a third world country who was hired for his exceptional abilities on a bicycle to help the more established stars on the team. Well, that’s how wrong I was and that’s why I’ll never be a professional director sportif.

Professional cycling today is still a traditional sport, where archaic rules, not the rules of the UCI, the governing body, have to be respected sometime. For example, you’re not supposed to hold on to a car or a motorbike during a race but if you’ve had a flat tire and you’re chasing back, the race commissaires can look away at the situation and allow the rider to make up for his/her misfortune. Cycling is still a gentleman’s sport.

Here’s the bio of Carapaz: He is 27yo, 5’7” and is from the small South American country of Ecuador. His nickname is the “Locomotive of Carchi”, the name of the mountainous province he comes from.

Ecuador, a country of 17 million, has produced great athletes from the past. Pancho Segura and Andres Gomez are two names I am familiar with as I used to follow tennis back in the days. Carapaz is the next.

Obviously, Carapaz’s win has captured the imagination of a nation. In fact, Ecuador paid ESPN to show the last two stages of the Giro “live” for free. “Some say sport changes lives, I believe that sport can change an entire country”, that’s what Sebastian Palacios wrote for El Telegrafico a few days ago.

Can a Filipino one day win a Grand Tour? It’s difficult but not impossible. Look at Manny Pacquiao. Pacman didn’t go through the sporting infrastructure like the Gintong Alay or Batang Pinoy, but he succeeded wildly. Carapaz went through the same road and if he and Manny can do it, then there’s no reason why a Filipino can’t win the Toue de France one day.

But the “godfather” culture in our sporting culture must go. Easier said than done though. Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, has already announced the removal of taxes on bicycle imports. The state will make a step further in supporting Ecuadorian athletes.

For now, Carapaz will have to face his future. He has an expiring contract with MOVISTAR for a measly €150,000. He said that he will be staying with Movistar as the Spanish outfit will let go of Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana and sign another, Spaniard Enric Mas. However, rumor has it that Carapaz will be going to team INEOS, nee SKY, for €1.5 million and join Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Colombian riders like Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa and his countryman Jhonatan Narvaez.

How Carapaz will fit with Ineos is a whole different story but for now, the story its about Ecuador and Carapaz.

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