The Ecuadorian used his usual cunning and attacking style to escape away up the final climb of the day alongside USA's Brandon McNulty, building a reasonable gap before Wout van Aert and the chasers began to close in.
Carapaz then sensed McNulty was weakening and attacked his former collaborator just as the chase was coming into view, those behind not able to organise and bring him back.
"I went to the Tour with the podium on my mind. I made it and I came here with the feeling that I could achieve something special. I won a gold medal and even when I crossed the line I couldn’t believe it. I think it’s the happiest moment of my life," Carapaz said after the finish.
>>> Five talking points from the Tokyo Olympics men's road race
“I think McNulty was a great companion in the breakaway, because he’s very, very good on even terrain. We were able to maintain that advantage that we had, 20 or 30 seconds that separated us from the rest. And then of course, coming here down to the circuit, I simply continued on that level and that’s how I won.”
Carapaz will hope this win, only Ecuador's second-ever gold medal after race walker Jefferson Pérez in 1996, will boost cycling in his home country, where it's still a minority sport, and that an Olympic gold will push through to the public consciousness more than a Giro d'Italia maglia rosa and a Tour de France podium have so far.
“To my country, the truth is you have to believe, no? I have worked so hard to get here. I’m here, I’m enjoying [it] — it’s something so big for me. And simply 'thank you' for the support which truthfully really helped me get here," Carapaz finished.
"He's had an incredible time with the team really, this last month has been great for him, massive for him and his country," Geraint Thomas added, talking to the BBC about his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate. "It was great to see. If it wasn't one of us [GB] at least it was someone we're close to."
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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