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Carapaz seeks to cement Ineos Grenadiers’ dominance over Giro d’Italia

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Cycling – Road – Men’s Road Race – Final – Tokyo at Fuji International Speedway, Japan – July 24, 2021. Richard Carapaz of Ecuador in action during the men’s road race. Pool via Reuters/Tim de Waele

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May 5 (Reuters) – The Ineos Grenadiers are favorites to continue their Giro d’Italia dominance when Richard Carapaz leads the British team in the first grand tour of the season, which begins on Friday.

The Ecuadorian rider, who won the race in 2019 at Movistar, leads a handful of favorites in what is expected to be close competition in the absence of Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar and fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic.

Both are focused on the July circuit while the last two Giro champions, Egan Bernal and Tao Geoghegan Hart, recover from injury and illness respectively.

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Ineos Grenadiers, however, have enough strength in depth to mount a solid challenge in a run that will begin in Budapest two years after Hungary’s Grand Partenza was postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team has won three of the last four editions.

Since his 2019 triumph, Carapaz has finished second in the Spanish Vuelta in 2020 and third in the 2021 Tour de France before winning the Olympic road race in Tokyo last year.

Other favorites include Briton Simon Yates, who crashed dramatically in 2018 when he seemed to have a firm grip on the race, as well as Frenchman Romain Bardet, who won the Tour of the Alps, and the Spaniard Mikel Landa.

Portugal’s Joao Almeida, fourth in 2020, will also be a force to be reckoned with, alongside Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez and Australian Jai Hindley.

Pure climbers will be relieved that the number of time trials – 26km – is the lowest in 60 years, giving better chances to riders such as Lopez and Bardet.

“It’s a challenge that I set myself this year, to play two big competitions and try to win both. I think it will be a big challenge for me,” said Carapaz, who is also expected to participate in the Vuelta. a press conference.

Carapaz has not raced since March as he stayed in Ecuador to refine his preparation at altitude.

Two previous winners, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and Italian Vincenzo Nibali, will start the race which heads to Sicily before grueling mountain stages in the north and a finish in Verona, but both men have limited ambitions .

Dumoulin is back racing full-time after a five-month hiatus last season and he is yet to find his best while Nibali has yet to finish on a grand tour podium since finishing second at the Giro. 2019.

On the flat stages, all eyes will be on sprinter Mark Cavendish and one-day racing specialist Mathieu van der Poel.

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Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Fallon

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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