A DAY IN THE TOUR WITH TAVIRA/AP MARIA NOVA HOTEL
Living one day in the Cycling Tour of Portugal as part of the caravan is a unique experience.
Living that day with the Atum-General/Tavira/AP Maria Nova Hotel team was even more rewarding, as you could see, from the inside, the commitment of an entire team, the almost superhuman effort of the cyclists, their professionalism and dedication to the jersey they wear.
The stages begin long before the official start.
The setting up of the party in the place of departure, in this case, Mealhada, starts early in the morning, with the team tents, merchandising, huge inflatables with the brands of the main sponsors, music, all of which involves the work of hundreds of professionals.
The teams arrive in large buses, about an hour and a half before the start. Tavira’s bus displays the sponsors’ brands, with special emphasis on the one that gives its name to the team.
It is time for a talk by the sports director, Vidal Fitas, to the seven cyclists that make up the team. The aim is to prepare the stage, remember the role of each one, outline the strategy.
At the same time, outside, the two mechanics assemble the bikes, looking at every detail.
When the cyclists go to the fictitious starting place, since the real one is already on the road, each one’s head is already in the race.
The Mealhada-Miranda Corvo stage had a difficulty at its end, a 10-kilometre climb up to the Observatory of Vila Nova, made for the first time this year, with an average gradient of 8.3%, which becomes one of the hardest.
It was exactly in the climb that bad luck knocked at the door of the Tavira/AP Maria Nova Hotel, when team leader Alejandro Marque had a puncture and lost contact with the cyclists in front.
Previously, Rafael Lourenço had suffered a heavy fall. The cyclist, showing a great spirit of sacrifice, continued the race, despite having to be treated by one of the race doctors already underway.
It is this spirit of sacrifice that distinguishes professional cycling from many other sports.
The emotion of the race peaked in the final phase, as expected, and it is here that the sporting director plays a key role, in encouraging the runners.
“Let’s go! Let’s go!”, is the watchword.
At the end, despite the obvious discouragement regarding the result, the words to the cyclists continued to be of encouragement.
Tomorrow will be another day. The Tour continues. And the day only ends around midnight, with the technical team – two mechanics, two masseurs, as well as a driver and a communication professional – involved in the preparation of the next stage.
In spite of everything, Tavira/AP Maria Nova Hotel keeps the 2nd place by teams in the general classification, and Alejandre Marque follows in seventh and Delio Fernandez in eighth.