TOKYO: Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz won Olympic gold in the men’s cycling road race, timing to perfection a tactical, final descent after a tough 234km course worthy of a mountain stage of the Grand Tour.
It was only Ecuador’s second-ever gold at the Olympics after that of Jefferson Perez in the 50km race walk in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar, bidding to become the first cyclist to win the road race in the same year as the Tour de France, had to settle for bronze in a photo finish with Belgium’s silver medallist Wout van Aert.
“It’s an incredible moment for me,” said 28-year-old Carapaz.
“You always have to believe. I have worked so hard to be here and it’s a huge moment for me.
“I can only say thank you to them (the Ecuadoran people) for the support and, honestly, for giving us such a big push.”
Van Aert said his silver was “beautiful”, but acknowledged that the peloton had been well and truly outgunned by Carapaz.
“We knew beforehand it was going to be difficult,” he said. “Carapaz stayed ahead very well. We knew he would be very strong, and he deserved the win.” — AFP