Portuguese cycling is getting worldwide attention in Giro D'italia this year, with João Almeida wearing the pink jersey for an amazing amount of stages. The young cyclist's performance made us look back and rediscover the Portuguese cyclists that amassed victories in main cycling events in the last decades.
Born in a small village called A dos Francos, near Caldas da Rainha, João Almeida, 22 years old, pedalled to wear the most coveted jersey of Italy for the first time. On stage three, João finished the 150 kilometres surrounding Mount Etna in third place, a good enough time to place him first in the general classification.
João Almeida is a cyclist running for the Deceuninck – Quick Step team. He got to cycling a bit late. João was first interested in BTT, then road cycling, swimming and football. The 2020 Giro D'Italia is his first participation in a major cycling event.
There's still a lot of road ahead until the last stage, which will bring cyclists to Milan on October 25. During the pandemic, João a lot on the streets so he could endure the three weeks race. We can agree with João on one thing: hard work always pays off!
Rúben Guerreiro, 26 years old, running for the Education First team, contributed with another dream moment for Portuguese cycling this year. Rúben did the 208 kilometres between San Salvo e Roccaraso in 5:41.20 hours and won, isolated, the ninth stage, winning the blue jersey. This jersey is attributed to best time on mountain stages. At the end of the stage, Rúben crossed the line pointing his fingers, imitating Cristiano Ronaldo: "I am here!".
Born in Pegões Velhos, near the city of Montijo, on the outskirts of Lisbon, Rúben always liked sports and, as many kids, started playing football. But his passion for the Tour de France made him pursue a career in cycling beginning at 17, on the team Matos Cheirinhos.
Considered the best Portuguese cyclist ever, Joaquim Agostinho won the "Volta a Portugal" three times: 1970, 1971 and 1972. He also rode the Tour de France for 13 times, finishing all but once. In France, his accomplishments were remarkable, such as winning the stage of Alpe D'Huez in 1979 and finishing third twice. In 1984, while leading the Tour of the Algarve, a dog ran into the road just before the finish line. Joaquim Agostinho hit the dog and fell to the ground, hitting his head. He remounted and crossed the line accompanied by other cyclists. On the way to a hospital to Lisbon, where he would be treated, Joaquim Agostinho fell in a coma and subsequently died, at 41 years old.
Acácio da Silva
In 1989, a Portuguese born in the northern village of Montalegre was the fastest cyclist to climb Mount Etna. Acácio da Silva once told that the only dopping he ever took was "posta mirandesa" (a huge, bloody, and succulent piece of meat), followed by an expresso. That was enough to make him a legend at Giro D'Italia, where he held the pink jersey for the second stage. Also in 1989, at the age of 28, Acácio would make headlines all over the world when in France he held dress the yellow jersey for five days.
Rui Costa, 34, is considered one of the best Portuguese cyclist of the last decade. Rui won the 2013 UCI Road World Championships, won the Swiis Tour three times in a row and ran several Tour de France editions.
Marco Chagas won the Volta a Portugal in 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986. For many years he was the cyclist with the most victories in the competition. We won 74 stages in his career, 22 in the Volta a Portugal. Today, Marco Chagas is the principal director of several professional cycling teams, and also a specialist commentator on TV.
José Azevedo's biggest achievement was the 5th place at Giro d'Italia in 2001, and the 5th and 6th places in the Tour de France in 2002 and 2004. José Azevedo moved to US Postal, a historic cycling team, in 2004, helping Lance Armstrong win the Tour.
Sérgio won the silver medal for Portugal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the country's first for cycling. In 2008, he won the Portuguese National Time Trial Championships and in 2010 joined Lance Armstrong's team RadioShack. We won the 10th stage of that same year's Tour.
Portuguese cyclists are some the best in the world, consolidating a victorious history throughout times. Winning in major competitions such as the Tour and the Olympics has become a tradition for Portugal. Maybe after football, Portugal has found in cycling another talent factory in sports.