Richard Carapaz says he will do everything he can to defend his polka dot jersey on the penultimate time trial stage of the Tour de France, with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) snapping at his heels in the king of the mountains classification.
The Ineos rider took the polka dot jersey thanks to his breakaway efforts on stage 18, gifting the stage win to team-mate Michał Kwiatkowski as the pair saved the British team’s Tour de France following Egan Bernal’s withdrawal.
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Carapaz takes a total of 74 points into the final two stages, two more than Pogačar’s 72, with 10 points available at the summit finish of the La Planche des Belles Filles time trial. Only a solitary point is then on offer over the fourth category climb as the peloton make their way to Paris on stage 21.
“Tomorrow is going to be a key day for us,” Carapaz said after stage 19. “I will try to defend the [KoM] title because that’s the most important thing.
“I am feeling good, and we are planning a time trial accordingly to try to get as many points as possible to maintain the jersey.”
The 36.2km ITT course is mostly flat for the first 24km, the last 1.8km of that section rising up at an average of 4.2 per cent.
The race against the clock culminates with a 6km climb up La Planche des Belles Filles, however, the average 8.3 per cent gradient set to provide a final test for GC riders as well as Carapaz’s hold on the polka dot jersey.
Maximum KOM points will be given to the rider with the fastest time up the category one climb, meaning Carapaz can save his legs and go all out for the points, the Ecuadorian having ridden the Tour in support of Egan Bernal and out of GC contention, nearly 18 minutes down in 13th place.
Pogačar cannot afford such a luxury, needing to defend his second place in the overall classification, Astana’s Miguel Ángel López only 30 seconds behind the young Slovenian.
“Tomorrow we’ll do everything we can to get those necessary points to carry the jersey to Paris,” Carapaz finished.