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Ecuador (Finally) Selects Narváez for the Olympics, Ending a Nasty Row

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

The Ecuadorian Cycling Federation (FEC) ended a festering conflict between its best riders by selecting Jhonatan Narváez to be its sole representative in the two cycling road events at the Paris Olympics this summer, rejecting the arguments of its defending Olympic road race champion, Richard Carapaz.

According to multiple reports, the FEC said its decision was taken “as requested by the Ecuadorian Olympic Committee (COE), on the basis of federal autonomy and the regulations issued.”

Carapaz, who won the Olympic road race gold medal in Tokyo in 2021, took his case to the Ecuadorian public at the beginning of May, when it became evident that he would be left at home this summer.

“It’s not fair,” he said on May 8. “It’s disappointing to me and to the whole country, or at least [to] people who understand cycling.”

Two days later, he attacked the FEC president, Santiago Rosero, on social media by posting a quote from Rosero in which he called Narváez the “best Classics rider in the history of America.” Carapaz then posted screenshots of rankings that had him leading the UCI one-day rankings the past four years.

Later, he issued a lengthy statement on the issue, saying that he was not opposed to the creating of a regulation for selecting the Ecuadorian representative at the Olympics. “However,” he added, “the regulation created by the FEC is clearly slanted and lacking the fundamental principles of fairness and sporting equality…. It’s clear that the regulation created by the FEC only takes into account criteria that favor my compatriot, ignoring any objective and fair consideration.”

Carapaz complained that the criteria for selecting Narváez was based on the UCI points total taken from the beginning of 2024, rather than the preceding 12 months, which is UCI’s system and where he led his rival until the Giro d’Italia. The INEOS Grenadiers rider won a stage and was prominent throughout the race, finishing a respectable 28th. Carapaz, on the other hand, had a poor spring season, winning only a single stage in Europe, after finishing second in the Tour Colombia.

Richard Carapaz
Carapaz complained that the criteria for selecting Narváez was based on the UCI points total taken from the beginning of 2024. © Profimedia

In addition, while winning the Ecuadorian time trial championship in January, the EF Education–EasyPost rider finished second in the national road race championship – to Narváez.

Carapaz also argued that “the regulation was not published until March, when there was already a difference in points between the athletes. This should have been sent out at the end of the Tokyo Olympics or at the end of last season, when all the athletes could start from zero points and plan their seasons accordingly. However, its creation in an improvised way, and without leaving any room to adapt, appears designed to keep me away from Paris and exonerate the president of the FEC of all responsibility.”

He also declared that he was the reason Ecuador had earned a spot at the Paris Olympics, which was based on UCI points accrued before this year. “It’s more than obvious that the spot was earned by me,” said Carapaz in one video interview. “I’m not just saying that because I’m the reigning Olympic champion. But [of] the points we’ve gained as a country, I’ve brought in almost 50% of them. That’s not what I’m saying, that’s what the results say.”

He then appealed to the Ecuadorian Ministry of Sports to intervene. The ministry reacted the same day, announcing that it was launching an investigation into the selection process and asking the FEC to postpone its final decision. This prompted a rejoinder from Narváez at the Giro, in which he asked that his rights be protected and that the selection be made “free from pressures.”

He needn’t have worried. The Federation ignored the ministry’s request to delay its decision, and acted swiftly to put the entire unpleasant situation finally to bed.

And on Monday, after the selection was officially announced, a smiling Carapaz took to Facebook to wish Narváez good luck. All’s well that ends well.