Richard Carapaz at the Tour de Romandie.

The reigning Olympic champ won’t get to defend his men’s road race title in Paris

Selectors have chosen Jhonatan Narváez over Richard Carapaz to race for Ecuador at the Olympics.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 28.05.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Richard Carapaz, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the road race, will not have the opportunity to defend his title in Paris this July. Ecuador’s Olympic selectors have decided to give the country’s lone Olympic spot to Jhonatan Narváez instead of Richard Carapaz, who stormed to a goal medal with a late attack at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

The question of which of the two Ecuadorian talents would get a shot at the Paris course has generated some conversation recently after Carapaz expressed his frustration with the possibility of missing out.

Last week, Carapaz criticized the selection process in a statement, calling out the Ecuadorian national federation’s “lack of transparency.” He pointed out that he is responsible for roughly half the UCI points that are responsible for Ecuador’s start spot at the upcoming Olympics, and he also criticized the fact that the federation had announced in March of 2024 that selectors would look at UCI points accrued from January of 2024.

“Points are taken into account from January, but the regulation was not published until March, when there was already a difference in points between the athletes,” Carapaz said. After Ecuador’s Ministry for Sport announced an investigation into the selection process, Narváez released his own statement, “requesting that any decision taken is in favour of the best representation of the country and free from pressures.”

Although Narváez has accrued more points in the shorter window from January 1 to now, measured before the recent Giro, Carapaz was more highly placed in the overall UCI points ranking, which orders riders on points accrued on a rolling basis going back one year. After the Giro, Narváez now sits more highly in the rolling yearly rankings too.

Jhonatan Narváez at the Giro d'Italia.
Jhonatan Narváez won the first stage of the Giro d’Italia and spent the following day in the pink jersey.

Narváez rode to second overall at the Tour Down Under, won the national road title just ahead of Carapaz, took sixth at E3 Prijs, and won a stage and finished highly on several other days at the Giro d’Italia. Carapaz, for his part, has had some success of his own in that time period, winning the national time trial title, nabbing a stage and second overall at the Tour Colombia, and taking a WorldTour stage win and seventh overall at the Tour de Romandie.

Both riders raced together in Tokyo, but the results scored by Ecuadorian riders since then left the team with only one spot for Paris instead of two. Beyond a simple look at UCI points, both riders would seem to have a decent claim at deserving a spot. Carapaz is an excellent climber and, obviously, a proven Olympic contender, while Narváez has looked especially strong of late and his Classics-style skillset could come in handy on a rolling Paris road race course.

In any case, Narváez has gotten the nod to race the Olympics, and regardless of his prior comments calling out the selectors, Carapaz has congratulated his compatriot on social media.

This time, it wasn’t possible for me to be the representative for the Olympic Games, but I want to wish the best of luck to Jhonatan,” he said. “I hope he does well and represents in the best way.”

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