The twilight zone called Portugal.

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Rafael Reis, a donkey who couldn't even hold a position on the PCT peloton, is about to win the ITT at Volta ao Algarve. This year, with a worse peloton, W52-Porco and other Portuguese riders are taking advantage and doing a mini Grandíssima in May.

Barely lost in the end to Asgreen, but still a huge performance for such a rider.
 
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Rafael Reis, a donkey who couldn't even hold a position on the PCT peloton, is about to win the ITT at Volta ao Algarve. This year, with a worse peloton, W52-Porco and other Portuguese riders are taking advantage and doing a mini Grandíssima in May.

Barely lost in the end to Asgreen, but still a huge performance for such a rider.
Calling him a donkey is harsh, the guy was a strong TTer in the junior and u23 ranks. 6th at the WC in 2010 (as a junior) and 4th in 2014 (in the u23 ranks).
 
Calling him a donkey is harsh, the guy was a strong TTer in the junior and u23 ranks. 6th at the WC in 2010 (as a junior) and 4th in 2014 (in the u23 ranks).
He's a donkey now. You're mentioning a result eight years ago and another one eleven years ago. Yeah, he was a good promise, but never evolved past that.

He transferred to Caja Rural a few years ago and returned to CycloTugão aka Portugal because he couldn't hold a spot in PCT. That's how harsh my assessment is. Now, all of a sudden he beats Benjamin Thomas in a medium range ITT... Sounds legit.
 
Porco just detonated the climb to Malhão and get the GC with João Rodrigues.

Porco gets the better off Sky.

Grandíssima stuff in the middle of May.
I quite like seeing these w52 minions best the top world tour teams at their own game. Given the things they've done in the Volta, Rodrigues, Brandao and Antunes on paper should be bossing Algarve. More so at least than sprinter Hayter and 83 kg Asgreen
 
I quite like seeing these w52 minions best the top world tour teams at their own game. Given the things they've done in the Volta, Rodrigues, Brandao and Antunes on paper should be bossing Algarve. More so at least than sprinter Hayter and 83 kg Asgreen
They had 3 guys in the top5 today. Yet everytime they leave Portugal they either get popped or dropped. Ofc Hayter and Asgreen climbing so well is a joke too, but this was some serious Grandíssima vibes today by Porco.
 
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They had 3 guys in the top5 today. Yet everytime they leave Portugal they either get popped or dropped. Ofc Hayter and Asgreen climbing so well is a joke too, but this was some serious Grandíssima vibes today by Porco.
Is this because, even with all the dope in the world, they are just not as fast as the super talent+program folks? I mean, they won and were all over everything. But Asgreen was 3rd in a stage race with a considerable climb in it. And Hayter. That says something, no?

Portugal is an interesting bike racing place!
 
Our prayers were answered: https://movistarteam.com/en/races/race/volta-a-portugal-2021

It's probably going to be a weak team but please bring someone with a bit of pedigree so he can get crushed. Please, please, please. It's gonna be so good.
It's too close to the Tour and the Vuelta team will largely be in Burgos which is overlapping. I'd expect Oliveira, the trackies and them testing the recovery on some of the young guns they don't want to send to a GT yet, like Abner González and Íñigo Elosegui. Maybe somebody like Pedrero or Cataldo as leader. I think the rouleur corps like Jacobs, Hollmann and García Cortina will be in Poland.

The problem is, we already know Valverde is doing the Vuelta. He would be the de facto, no-brainer choice for leading the team at the Volta a Portugal, as he's the perfect age to peak for it.
 
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It's too close to the Tour and the Vuelta team will largely be in Burgos which is overlapping. I'd expect Oliveira, the trackies and them testing the recovery on some of the young guns they don't want to send to a GT yet, like Abner González and Íñigo Elosegui. Maybe somebody like Pedrero or Cataldo as leader. I think the rouleur corps like Jacobs, Hollmann and García Cortina will be in Poland.

The problem is, we already know Valverde is doing the Vuelta. He would be the de facto, no-brainer choice for leading the team at the Volta a Portugal, as he's the perfect age to peak for it.
Valverde will Rebellin it at Grandíssima in his late 40's. We just need to wait a few more years.

Abner was the first name the popped in my mind. If he finishes within half an hour he's GT TOP 10 material for sure...

Someone on the level of Pedrero would be amazing although Cataldo is a better fit age wise...
 
Ok, there's a topic on general, but we all now Tugão should be discussed exclusively here.

Yesterday Reis demolished everyone in the prologue. OK, he's quite good at, specially in a weak field like this.

But today, he got through the climb 14km to go (he's no climber, not at all), attacked and won solo extending his lead.

Efapel seems to have found some W52-Porco juice and are looking mighty strong. Can't wait to see what Carvalho and Figueiredo can do the day after tomorrow in Torre.
 
Ok, there's a topic on general, but we all now Tugão should be discussed exclusively here.

Yesterday Reis demolished everyone in the prologue. OK, he's quite good at, specially in a weak field like this.

But today, he got through the climb 14km to go (he's no climber, not at all), attacked and won solo extending his lead.

Efapel seems to have found some W52-Porco juice and are looking mighty strong. Can't wait to see what Carvalho and Figueiredo can do the day after tomorrow in Torre.
Figueiredo already did at least 7.5 w/kg for almost 6min on the final climb of the first mountain stage of the Gp Torres, so I expect him to go thermonuclear.
Reis surprised me with his climbing, but the descent and the run in (where he got the gap) were into his hometown. He knew the roads really well and took lots of risks on the descent.
 
So, after the queen stage in Torre we have the nearly 40-year-old Alejandro "Betamethasone" Marque on the lead and the clear favorite.

Mauricio Moreira is pulling a Balárcon level transformation (although, to be fair, Moreira was a fair better rider than Balárcon to begin with) and now climbs at an Abner González level. Porco and Efapel were pathetic: Porco """has""" three leaders but it's harder when everyone is on the juice and can keep up with the hundreds of accelerations, Efapel is just the usual mess tactically. Figueiredo looked good until halfway of the climb but kind of faded. Carvalho was bad.

After a penalty for getting a drink from the car in the last few kms, both Moreira and González are a bit back on the GC. Marque and Doposo, averaging 40, are now in the top positions and unless something really special happens, the top2 may have been found considering they're going to detonate the last ITT...

Grandíssima never disappoints, what a pathetic and hilarious piece of cycling that last stage was.
 
Be fair, Marque and César are at peak Volta age. Abner and Moreira are mere children.

Also Moreira is pulling this at just-turned-26, he should have spent at least another 3-4 years doing diddly-squat in the Portuguese scene before this to truly replicate Balarcón.
All jokes aside, there's clearly an arms race going on right now. Porco would've been left with 3 in a group of 6 in previous years when their last domestique (Vilela) hit the front. Yesterday was a very different picture. It's surprising to see this arms race being won by Vidal Fita's team instead of Efapel, but it looks like yout theory about "Volta age" still stands correct.
 
All jokes aside, there's clearly an arms race going on right now. Porco would've been left with 3 in a group of 6 in previous years when their last domestique (Vilela) hit the front. Yesterday was a very different picture. It's surprising to see this arms race being won by Vidal Fita's team instead of Efapel, but it looks like yout theory about "Volta age" still stands correct.
I always think that the thing with "Volta age" is more that riders who are the kind of age of, say, Moreira, still harbour some optimism that they have a chance of getting out to a wider scene. Moreira did OK in his two years with Caja Rural, but not great, but he had a year on the Spanish amateur scene and was clearly good enough to get a new pro deal. He's clearly stepped up a gear (pun intended) this year, but he's still young enough (only just turned 26 a couple of weeks ago) that somebody might see something in him to promote back to the higher ranks. This ties with the age at which Amaro Antunes hit thermonuclear with W52 after years of being not-quite-living-up-to-the-promise. But the way the Volta runs, you get a lot of the more promising people who can get into the mix at peak cycling ages - Brandão hitting the GC battle at 25, Figueiredo likewise, João Rodrigues - and the occasional rider who can get out just about young enough to make a decent niche for themselves at a higher level - Délio Fernández for example - but the real "spirit of the Volta" seems to come from those riders who have given up the hope of promotion and go ballistic at this level into their 30s.

I mean, it's no longer the Puerto exiles that it used to be, and the other issue is that Spanish cycling has recovered from the early 2010s doldrums financially as well so there are now multiple Spanish ProContis and different options for Spanish riders, other than it being Movistar, Caja Rural or bust as it was at the lowest point, so the quality of the Spanish imports being brought in has gone down, at least among younger riders. The "Volta age" people, although we joke about the 40-year-olds, more refers to those who suddenly leap up in level in their early 30s, as a final hail mary for their career. And some of them don't just do it in Portugal, but a lot of them do. The kind of guys we're thinking of are those like, say:
  • David Belda - bouncing around amateur teams until 28, after 3 years on a Continental team went nuts at 31 in 2014, spent 2 years winning small races, failed riding outside of Iberia and then tested positive at 34
  • Raúl Alarcón - returned to Spanish amateur scene from 22-25, won a stage of the Volta then was in Portugal doing little of note for several years before suddenly turning into an unstoppable animal at 31, eventual reign of terror stopped by biopass violations at 33, almost as soon as W52 went ProConti.
  • Gustavo César Veloso - pretty useful rider in his late 20s for Xacobeo-Galicía (albeit not at a point when their reputation was very good), but was already in his 30s when he re-appeared in Portugal, dominant through mid-30s
  • Vicente García de Mateos - fairly young by these standards, nevertheless a fairly nondescript amateur in Spain into his mid-20s, a couple of good results in Japan at 26, returned to Portugal at 27, started being a contender at 29, had a biopassport violation at 30. Now 32, he has little hope of breaking out beyond the Portuguese domestic scene à la Délio.
  • Alejandro Marque - being from Galicia but not part of Xacobeo, he's essentially spent his whole career in Portugal, but he never really played any GC role during the post-Puerto days. Suddenly at 31 he emerged to win the GC, having only once even made the top 20-30 riders before and usually targeted the ITTs for stage wins. Got screwed by Movistar due to the Euskaltel collapse and a disputed test giving them the opportunity to swap out his contract for a cut-price flyer on Igor Antón. Spent his mid-30s contesting the Portuguese GC.
Before this generation, the advanced age of the Portuguese péloton's stars was more to do with them being the remnants of yesteryear, the Puerto exiles that weren't young enough to protect or strong enough for it to slide off them, so people like David Blanco, David Bernabéu, Tino Zaballa and others who were already at least late 20s when it hit so would then ride on with the better salaries available in Portugal at the time. Then the collapses of several Spanish teams in short order meant a lot of riders too old to be appealing projects for overseas teams, but too young to give up the ghost on their career, led to their dispersal all over - this is where you get that Spanish contingent like José Vicente Toribio, Benjamí Prades, Edu Prades, Ion Aberasturi, Marcos García and Salvador Guardiola in Japan, and the ones like Juanjo Oroz riding in Chile, Javier Sardá in Vietnam, Diego Milán becoming a Dominican citizen and so on - and Portugal, being close to home and with an established scene, was a logical stopping point. You get quite a few who go at a reasonable age - round about where Moreira is now - but you need to go to the next level to compete in A Grandissima. Some stop short - Arkaitz Durán, for example, annihilated the Spanish amateur calendar, but never replicated that with Efapel - and others take a few years to decide if they're going to go to that next level, like Belda and Alarcón. Others make a rod for their own backs - Alberto Gallego went at 25 from nothingburger Spanish amateur to climbing with the guys like Quintana and Contador in the Route du Sud and being all over the Volta, young enough to merit a flyer from Caja Rural but tested positive within three days - but is now back, 30 years old and persona non grata pretty much anywhere other than... the team who had him back when he was achieving those results the first time round.

The Portuguese teams do have a history of taking flyers on the occasional successful mid-20s Spanish amateur who isn't getting a pro ride elsewhere, so they remain a viable alternative for those riders. But to compete at the Volta, you have to compete with several 30-something pros who either made it big and are slumming it in the twilight of their careers, or are career nearly-men who now have nothing left but eleven days in August to compete for. You can't compete with those guys unless you're supremely talented (in which case you often would have been plucked out of Portugal before such a point anyway, like Rui Costa or João Almeida, and although Movistar now gives us a chance to view things a bit more objectively, the last time we had a team of the top level here was Lampre in the early 2010s), and let's face it, most of these riders who are still in the amateur scene at 25-26 are likely not at that kind of level to naturally produce that kind of wattage unless they have a Primož Roglič or Michael Woods type backstory, and at that point it follows the Tyler Hamilton 1000 days rule - just the guys in the Volta are often 29-30 when those 1000 days are up, rather than early to mid-20s as the riders he references at the top level.

Mauricio Moreira has been a pro for 2 years, back in the amateur scene for a year, now back on a pro contract in the Portuguese scene and has significantly stepped up his results in the fourth year since he signed his neo-pro deal. There are 365 days in a calendar year. I like Moreira, but the math(s) is easy to do.
 
The ascent was really tactical, Moreira rode it 2min slower than Luis Fernandes 2 years ago, when the later finished 7th, 20sec down on Rodrigues and Veloso.
Still, at some point Moreira was outclimbing Veloso an riding down attacks by Antunes an Rodrigues yesterday, that looked like the Volta version of van Aert...
 

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