Efapel in the Volta a Portugal to fight for yellow with three leaders

José Azevedo will be at Volta a Portugal as manager and promises to fight for victory, but without calling himself the favourite. Joaquim Silva, Henrique Casimiro and Tiago Antunes share management.

In the ski resort of Manzaneda, in Galicia, Efapel did the altitude stage in preparation for the Volta a Portugal and defined the strategy. IN THE MATCH, José Azevedo says the team will seek the yellow jersey, playing with three leaders.

“We entered the competition looking for victories. We are not favourites, but we will fight for yellow. Joaquim Silva has made several podiums, Henrique Casimiro and Tiago Antunes as well. I don’t have a favorite rider, I believe in their value”, he said before his debut as director of Grandíssima, recalling the value of climbers: Joaquim Silva won the JN GP in 2021 and the Viana do Castelo classic in 2021; Henrique Casimiro made five top -10 in the last six Tours of Portugal, Tiago Antunes won a stage of the Grand Prix O JOGO.

“For the first year, we had a very positive presence. We won our space. We want to grow, but we have results of which I am very proud”, analyzes Azevedo, who, as director, won stages of the Tour, a Vuelta a España and even classics.monument. However, the Volta is special: “I already imagined winning the Volta, of course. That’s why I invested in this personal project, I wanted to put my experience in a Portuguese project”.

Francisco Campos has recovered from a knee injury and is a sprinter for flat days and an assist for Rafael Silva, who is a good finisher after the mid-mountain stages. “I would like to have a chance in the sprint. Rafael has already won two races and been consistent. On the compact sprint days we missed Campos, who crashed in the first race of the year,” he said. , later considering the favorable final time trial by the “few flat areas between Gaia and Porto”.

Azevedo also identifies his main rival: “Glassdrive is the biggest winner of the year. There is Frederico Figueiredo, who this year has won several victories. He is the big favourite. Mauricio Moreira has had health problems and does not has not been at the level of the last few years”.

A dream left unfulfilled

José Azevedo was ranked fourth in the Volta a Portugal 2000 and embraced a project abroad, where he would have one of the best careers in memory among Portuguese cyclists. When he returned to Benfica in 2007, he confessed that he dreamed of yellow, finishing this competition in sixth place. “Of course, I came to think that I could win. I felt in great shape, but the Portuguese riders and the Portuguese teams have the Tour as their main objective”, he explains, recalling that, candidates in 2008, only Tiago Machado remains.

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