Between August 1st and 12th, the UCI Continental Miranda-Mortágua team will make its race debut in the 80th edition of the Tour of Portugal, the most anticipated event of the season. The prestigious race represents a significant challenge for the team, which is eager to participate in Portuguese cycling’s banner event.
Miranda-Mortágua's director sportif, Pedro Silva, has selected António Barbio, Nuno Meireles, Jorge Magalhães, Francisco Campos, Hugo Nunes, Gonçalo Carvalho and Pedro Teixeira to race the “Grandíssima.” All of them went through extensive preparation in the Serra da Estrela, where a specific training program was developed exclusively for this important event in the team’s history.
When asked about objectives for the race, Silva said that the grand ambition would be "a top 10 place in the general classification. We know it will be very complicated.
But beyond this concrete goal there are two more: battling for victory in some stages that have already been selected; and putting up a fight for the white jersey for the Best Young Rider. As for our expectations, these will be aligned with our potential, but everything that is within our reach will be done," he assured.
There are 11 days of competition with a rest day in the middle. The race starts with a prologue, followed by 10 stages and an individual time trial to finish the 80th edition of the Tour of Portugal. 150 racers from 21 teams will start the race route, which runs between Setúbal and Fafe and measures 1,578.9 km. in total.
The 1.8 km individual time trial prologue, staged in the city of Setúbal, will kick off the 2018 Tour of Portugal next Wednesday, August 1st. The first racer will depart at 3:00 p.m., with the final racer scheduled to leaved at 5:30 p.m. The 191.8 km Stage 1 on August 2 will depart from Alcácer do Sal at 12:45 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Albufeira around 5:25 p.m.
Friday’s Stage 2 on August 3rd will be the longest stage in this year’s edition. Racers will take off from Beja at 12:30 and ride the 195.3 km route, which ends in Portalegre around 5:20 p.m. The race’s third stage — the Stage of Life - will pass through some of the areas affected by the 2017 fires and will count on the presence of the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who will accompany the race caravan along the 175.9 kms that connect Sertã to Oliveira do Hospital.
Sunday, August 5, brings the cruelty of the mountain. The peloton will leave the Guard at 12:40 p.m. to reach Covilhã at the top of Penhas da Saúde, where there is special classification to award the Mountain Prize 171.4 km later. The racers are expected to arrive at 5:25 p.m. The route then passes through Gouveia and Seia (Sprint Competitions) and will make the mythical ascent to the top of Torre, at kilometer 101. The fifth stage on August 6, which precedes the rest day, will see racers endure 191.7 kms between Sabugal and Viseu. The “Grandíssima” rests in Viseu on August 7.
After the rest day racing returns with Stage 6 on August 8: an ascent and a descent between Sernancelhe and Boticas covering a total of 165.4 km. Stage 7 will join Montalegre with Viana do Castelo, and includes a Cat. 3 mountain climb in Santa Luzia. The stage spans 165.5 km.
The rolling up/down route continues into Stage 8, on August 10, between Barcelos and Braga, for a total of 147.6 km, making it the shortest stage in this national bike race. The 155.2 km ninth stage starts in Felgueiras, from which the pro peloton will depart at 12:55 p.m. to finish on the mythical Cat. 1 mountain named Sra. da Graça in Mondim de Basto.
The tenth and final stage takes place on Sunday, August 12 in Fafe, with a 17.3 km individual time trial starting at 2 p.m. and ending around 5:30 p.m.
"The team is very confident and motivated. All the racers have taken tremendous care to be in their best physical shape. It's the race of the year! And we know it's going to be a very difficult challenge since our racers’ average age is low. In addition to being young, they lack experience," said Pedro Silva, noting that only two of them, António Barbio and Nuno Meireles, have the experience that this type of racing demands. However, "everyone regards the Volta as a great challenge and there’s a desire to demonstrate our significance. We don’t want to be a team that just participates; we want to leave an impression."
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