Anadia, Portugal — Competing for Portugal, Rui Oliveira laid down a dominating winning ride in the Under 23 Elimination Race Tuesday at the Juniors and U23 Track European Championships in Anadia, Portugal. His Axeon Hagens Berman teammate and identical twin brother Ivo blazed to a silver medal performance in the Under 23 Individual Pursuit.
“This is an absolute dream come true after so many second and third place finishes. The podium is nice, but nothing compares to the top spot,” Rui said.
After a strong opening season racing for Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team, which included taking home the best young rider jersey at the Joe Martin Stage Race, Rui arrived at the U23 Track European Championships concerned about his form after a particularly tough training block.
“I was a bit tired heading into the race after all my road training these past few weeks, and I didn’t have the best feeling on the track,” Rui said. “I focused on getting some rest and letting my body recover, and when I showed up, my primary goal was to simply medal.”
The Porto, Portugal native entered the Elimination Race with a plan to race aggressively and stay on the front as much as possible.
“My strategy worked and once it was only me and three other riders remaining, I attacked and eliminated two of the riders,” Rui said. “In the final, it came down to a Polish rider and me. When I opened up my sprint, I saw that he wasn’t able to catch my wheel and I realized that the win was possible.”
For Ivo, the podium finish was a compete surprise. The 20-year-old entered the race unsure of his form after suffering a broken arm during the Giro Ciclistico d'Italia. He only had trained on the rollers for the past month. He finished second in the Individual Pursuit qualification round and advanced to the finals where he finished second behind Great Britain’s Mark Stewart.
“I never expected to take second, but I’m really glad that all my hard work paid off,” Ivo said. “I only managed to get in three sessions on the track yet I felt surprisingly good, even with my arm. Also, I had to race with a removable cast, so due to all these things, this result came as a welcomed surprise.”
Photo: European Track Championships