The Ineos Grenadiers rider finished third atop Luz Ardiden on stage 18 of the Tour and now has a buffer of 2-27 to Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) in fourth, meaning that only disaster in the three remaining stages will stop the Ecuadorian appearing on the final podium in Paris.
Carapaz was in high spirits after the stage and when asked if he will be riding the Vuelta, that begins on August 14, he smiled and said: “Possibly.”
Should he be included in his team’s eight-man squad, he would be riding alongside Adam Yates and Egan Bernal, and probably facing the Tour’s winner-in-waiting Tadej Pogačar once more.
Reflecting on his performance in the final Pyrenean stage that pretty much makes him the first Latin American to finish in the top-three of all Grand Tours, the 2019 Giro d’Italia victor said:
“Firstly, for me, as a professional, it’s amazing. Each year I am progressing, trying new things and, above all, trying to get another title more.
“We have come into this Tour with a lot of ambition and we are going to finish third.
“It’s a good result after everything. I am very positive and very happy.”
For the second successive day there were large time gaps among the GC riders, although Pogačar, Carapaz and Jonas Vingegaard in second remained close together until the final metres.
“It has been a very hard stage,” he said. “We have raced up here very quick.
“We have tried to win the stage, that was our goal.
“We have been fighting, and we have tried to do everything we possibly could.
“We knew there were people who were a lot stronger than us, but you lose nothing by trying.
“It’s finished well and we have crossed the line in third. We have to be very pleased after this.”
Stage 20’s time trial is the last chance for riders to change position in the race’s final standings, and though Carapaz isn’t worried about the test against the clock, he stuck to the script.
“It’s a very hard time trial. It’s 30kms and we have to go full gas and very fast. Normally the podium will be there now, but we have to try our best.”
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