Dubai: UAE Team Emirates rider Rui Costa is keen on building on the success of the team after being crowned national road champion Portuguese National Road Race Championships for the second time in his career.
Crowned national champion for the first time in 2015 a week before the Tour de France, Costa kept off FC Porto rider Daniel Mestre in a long and hard-fought sprint to the finish line late on Monday.
This was a second victory of the season for Costa after the Portuguese star had claimed the opening stage of the Saudi Tour in February.
Best known for winning the 2013 UCI Road World Championships in Tuscany, Italy - becoming the first Portuguese rider to do so - Costa had gone on to claim three stages of the Tour de France in 2011 and 2013.
Now 33, Costa also won the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of the Tour de Suisse – becoming the first and only cyclist to win the event for three consecutive years so far.
On Monday, Costa was able to count on the support of brothers and teammates Rui and Ivo Oliveira who went on to finish 16th and 17th respectively.
“It was a very special victory. Rui and Ivo Oliveira rode out of their skin for me today. They both worked hard on the front when it was necessary and got in the right moves. To win here in Portugal is complicated when you have teams with big numbers against us but we worked it out perfectly between in the end,” Costa said.
“I put in a really hard attack in the final kick and I was happy to finish it off in the sprint. This weekend has been a huge success for the team, with Ivo winning the Time Trial and me the road race, it couldn’t have gone any better,” he added.
Meanwhile, in France, it was UAE Team Emirates starlet Tadej Pogacar who animated the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné from Megève-Megève over 153.5kms with eight climbs and an uphill finish.
The young Slovenian rider went on the attack 27 km from the finish, in a select group of four riders including Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) and Daniel Martinez (EF).
The UAE Team Emirates rider crossed the line in third position 30 seconds behind the winner Kuss, managing to climb up to fourth place in the general classification, a mere 56 seconds behind Martinez.
Teammate Davide De La Cruz, the best climber of the race won the mountains classification with 68 points, beating Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) by 16 points.
“The race had a very high pace from the first climb to the finish. Today I was doing well and I managed to put in a good performance, also thanks to the support of my teammates, who helped me throughout the Dauphiné. In the final I was fine, but the other riders were also pushing hard with me leading the race. I followed Martinez and I got a good result,” Pogacar expressed.
Portuguese National Road Race Championships: 1. Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) 4:04:05; 2. Daniel Mestre (W52/FC Porto) same time; 3. Francisco Campos (W52/FC Porto) @ 28”.
Criterium du Dauphiné: (Stage 5) 1. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 3:58:39; 2. Daniel Martinez (EF) @ 27”; 3. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) @ 30”.
(Final General Classification) 1. Daniel Martinez (EF) 21:44:58; 2. Thibau Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) @ 29”; 3. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) @ 41”; 4. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 56”.