VERONA, Italy (AP) — Richard Carapaz became Ecuador’s first Grand Tour champion as he won the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, while American Chad Haga was fastest on the final stage’s individual time trial.
Carapaz, who rides for Movistar, keeled over his handlebars with emotion inside the Arena di Verona after the 17-kilometer (10.5-mile) route.
The 26-year-old Carapaz has worn the leader’s pink jersey since winning the grueling 14th stage on May 25.
“This is the biggest moment of my sporting life,” Carapaz said. “In this final time trial I just suffered from start to finish until I reached the arena of Verona. It’s fabulous to win the Giro d’Italia.”
The Ecuadorian finished the three-week race one minute, five seconds ahead of home favorite Vincenzo Nibali and 2:30 ahead of Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, who leapfrogged Mikel Landa into third spot.
“I don’t have any regrets, we all had a good Giro d’Italia, which was very hard-fought,” Nibali said. “I had great rivals, Carapaz showed he is strong and that he deserved it … Carapaz didn’t steal anything, he was really strong.”
Both Carapaz and Nibali took their children onto the podium with them as they collected their trophies.
Carapaz’s parents had also flown over from Ecuador and revealed it was the first time they had been on a plane.
Haga had told his wife to stay at home.
“Maybe that was a mistake,” the Team Sunweb cyclist said as he smiled through tears of joy in a post-race interview. “This is for everyone who believed in me and supported me and sacrificed for me.
“I gave everything today and to finally win … it’s very special.”
Haga had thought about quitting cycling after he and five other teammates were hospitalized after being hit by a car while they were training in Calpe, Spain. The incident happened in January 2016, when he was part of Team Giant-Alpecin.
It was Haga’s first stage victory in a Grand Tour. He was four seconds faster than Victor Campenaerts and six faster than Thomas De Gendt.
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