Carapaz delighted to defy Giro expectations
Richard Carapaz revelled in proving his doubters wrong at the Giro d'Italia and becoming the first Ecuadorian winner of a Grand Tour.
Having finished fourth in Italy last year, Carapaz claimed two wins in 2019 and led the general classification from stage 14 until the finish.
Protecting his lead over Vincenzo Nibali in Sunday's time trial sealed the title for the 26-year-old, who was picturing a party at home in Ecuador.
"It's true, 21 days ago, no-one counted on me as a favourite," he said. "No-one believed I could do it.
"To be here wearing the pink jersey and to have my name on the trophy is just something amazing.
"When I left my country, they didn't believe in a boy who was going to the Giro d'Italia. I think they didn't know about it until day four when I won my first stage. Then it began to resonate more.
"I can't imagine how the country is now. I've been concentrating on the Giro. I can't imagine.
"But there are compatriots who are euphoric, who share my win, who resonate with this. My country must be the same."
Carapaz admitted he had been wary of discussing his status as race leader until the triumph was sealed on Sunday, keen to avoid a "jinx".
"Now I am the winner of the Giro," he said. "I never wanted to say anything that might jinx the win.
"I knew that anything could happen and that, until I passed over the final cobblestone here in Verona, the race wasn't won.
"It's something incredible to say now that I am the winner of a Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia."