The Ecuadorian won his first race in his national colours for his new squad, beating Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën) by 12 seconds at the top of the Valberg in southeast France. Lennert Van Eetvelt (Lotto-Dstny) rounded out the podium 38 seconds back after getting the beating of Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) and Cristian Rodríguez (Arkéa-Samsic) in the race for the line.
EF Education-EasyPost had control of the race in the final, pacing for Carapaz up the last climb of the day, the Valberg. Carapaz was the first to go from the elite leading group that had survived from the peloton, and his attack was the decisive one on the day.
At 7km to go he went clear of the group following a final pacemaking effort courtesy of Mark Padun. The 30-year-old looked set to solo home for a comfortable victory, but still had to hold off Gall, who emerged from a chase group including Van Eetvelt, Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), and Andrey Zeits (Astana Qazaqstan).
The German proved the strongest man behind Carapaz, even closing to within a few seconds of Carapaz at the 4km mark. However, Carapaz had too much strength in the closing kilometres, holding Gall behind as Van Eetvelt put in one final burst of speed from the chase to seal third.
Earlier in the day, an eight-man breakaway including Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny), Mathis Le Berre (Arkéa-Samsic), Gleb Brussenskiy (Astana Qazaqstan), and Jordi López (Equipo Kern Pharma), among others, had jumped clear of the peloton.
EF and AG2R held their advantage to six minutes, though, and it was clear that the move wouldn’t be allowed to last to the line – as expected. The day’s second climb of the Col de la Couillole brought the first major action of the day, with Le Berre, López, Eenkhoorn, and Xavier Cañellas (Electro Hiper Europa) emerging as the best from the break.
López was the last man standing from the move, leading over the top of the Couillole to seal the day’s climbing prize before he was brought back 31km from the line at the first mini-ascent of the Valberg.
EF led the way down the rainy descent, while Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) went clear with an attack of his own on the way down. He wouldn’t be successful, either, though, getting caught at the base of the final climb up Valberg, 12km from the line. From there it was the EF and Carapaz show, with the American team’s new signing racing home for a 19th career victory.
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