QUITO – Cyclist Richard Carapaz, who returned to his native Ecuador this week amid an outpouring of praise for his feat of winning the Giro d’Italia, says the adulation won’t distract him as he looks ahead to the Vuelta a España.
“You can let yourself get carried away (by fame) but with your feet on the ground,” he told EFE on Tuesday shortly before being received by President Lenin Moreno and being honored by a huge crowd in Quito’s Plaza Grande.
Carapaz, a self-described “simple guy,” has his own ways of keeping success from going to his head so he can concentrate on the next steps in his career.
Last week, a day after becoming the second Latin American ever to win the Giro after Colombia’s Nairo Quintana in 2014, the Ecuadorian made it clear that he will not compete in the 2019 Tour de France.
“When I started cycling, my dream was to wear the pink jersey of the Giro and this year I psyched myself up for that. The Tour is not in my plans. In two seasons I’ll try it. I don’t know whether I’ll win it, but I’ll try,” he said about the grandest of the grand tours of cycling.
What he will be ready for is the Vuelta a España in August.
The fact is that Carapaz, 26, understands that though he may now be at the peak of his cycling career, “at any time” he could come skidding to a stop.
With a career created by his own efforts and no help to speak of from anyone, the cyclist still has no idea how far he can go with this sport.
Though he may be thinking of winning the Giro d’Italia again.
“We’ll take it little by little, step by step, the dream is there. If I can do it five times, let it be five times, but I’m thinking of taking it little by little, year by year, always with my feet on the ground. Step by step, just as I’ve been doing over the past few years, being aware of what I can do, of what I can achieve,” he told EFE.
A native of Tulcan, the city where Wednesday he will receive another tribute, this time from his neighbors, Carapaz feels that personally he has it all: mother, father, wife and two children ages 2 and 5.
“Five years from now I expect to see myself as the same father figure for my kids and always in love with my wife,” he said.
With his children still tykes, he considers himself “privileged” to be able to take his family with him whenever he has to leave Ecuador for long periods of time, though he knows he can’t keep doing that once the kids start school.
“At the moment I’m fine staying here in Ecuador, I think I’ll stay here. We set our own limits so I don’t see the problem,” he added.
Satisfied with his achievements up to now, Carapaz doesn’t hold back criticism of Ecuador for the meager support it gives to cycling, and hopes that “it becomes aware of the diamond in the rough” that exists in that sport at a local level, above all in Carchi province, where he has founded a cycling academy.