Rui Costa video: New world champion details the tactics which won him his rainbow jersey
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Monday, September 30, 2013

Rui Costa video: New world champion details the tactics which won him his rainbow jersey

by Shane Stokes at 7:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, World Championships, Video
“I just went hoping my legs wouldn’t fail me. They didn’t fail me”

Rui CostaThe new world road race champion Rui Costa has pledged to do his utmost to shine in the famous jersey, saying that he will do it justice in the months ahead.

The Portuguese rider added the world title to previous victories such as stages in the Tour de France and the overall classification of the Tour de Suisse. The win confirms him as one of the world’s best riders, and he is determined to have a strong season in 2014 with the stripes on his back.

“It was always a big dream of mine since I was a child to wear this jersey. Today I realised a dream and in a way won the lottery,” he said at the post race press conference, which can been seen in the video below.

“This jersey means a big deal to me. I wanted it more than anything else in my career. I think I still can’t believe I am world champion but I will do everything I can to honour this jersey.”

Costa will be aware that the jersey has made life difficult for many of those who have worn it, with the season following the triumph often less impressive than what has come before. That has been blamed on a number of factors, from the so called ‘curse of the rainbow jersey’ to close marking by rivals and even to living it up too much with public functions and other commitments after taking such a big success.

It remains to be seen how things go for him but he appears determined to keeping the momentum going in a career which has been gathering pace for several years.

Yesterday’s race was the toughest in recent memory, with a very difficult course being rendered even more so by the teeming rain which fell on Tuscany. Costa said that it required a lot of concentration, and that there were times when he suffered a lot.

“It was a complicated world championships. The rain in the first three hours made the race really hard,” he said. “Just thinking about safety and how to get to the end in one piece was in everyone’s concerns. Like in any race I had good moments, I had bad moments. Luckily I was able to overcome those.”

(Note: English translations follow each answer)

Costa was asked about the Italian team’s tactic of riding hard from early on. While this kept things under control and helped set up the finale, the energy expected also meant that Nibali was missing a team-mate on the final lap. He had to do much of the chasing of Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde himself, and ultimately ended up fourth.

“They took the decision to take control of the race. From our side it is always easy to say one way or the other [about what they should have done – ed.]. That was their decision, they came in with that decision of controlling the race,” he said.

“But I also think the weather played an important role. In the entrance to the circuits there were a lot of crashes on the wet roads so I think that for them, also keeping Nibali safe was a really important thing to do and perhaps that is why they took that decision.

“With the time the way it was, it played well into our hands and to our advantage.”

Costa said that when it came down to a very small group at the end that he started to believe he had a chance. He hung off the back of the group on the hills and seemed to be under pressure, but this may have been a diversion to ensure he didn’t have to do too much. Describing things afterwards, he said that he was feeling ‘really good’ on that last lap.

It came down to himself and Joaquim Rodriguez, with the Spaniard attacking solo and then Costa bridging across to him just before the line.

His surge caught out Valverde and Nibali, who had been tussling between them. “I think out of the three riders, Rodriguez was the one with the least amount to lose since he was the least fast of everybody, and therefore was risking the most,” he said, implying that he was expecting an attack.

“With two kilometres to go, he had a certain advantage. I knew I had to pick the right moment to make my jump and also keeping in mind that I had to catch him at the right time so there wasn’t too much cat and mouse,” he said.

Given that he and Valverde are on the same Movistar team, some journalists suggested in the post-race press conferences that there may have been an agreement between them. Costa played down suggestions of any favours, saying that he got the gap because he had the legs.

“I attacked decisively and to make sure that there wasn’t anybody on the wheel,” he explained. “Obviously it also has to do with the strength you have at that moment. I felt strong so when I attacked, it was to go on my own.”

It is worth keeping in mind that he will leave Movistar for Lampre Merida at the end of the season, so his current team won’t gain much from his win. This too suggests that a deal wasn’t done with Valverde, who had a bigger interest in Spain winning.

Once clear, Costa drew gradually closer to Rodriguez. He said that he wanted to do so at the right pace, ensuring he didn’t get up there too soon and thus cause the momentum to stall.

“All I kept thinking about was to close that gap as efficiently as possible. When I got to him, Joaquim told me to pass him. Obviously I didn’t want to pass him, so I was just trying to think about the sprint, save as much energy as possible,” he explained.

“I looked back and saw we had a good gap, so then I was just playing the tactical game to the end. I just went hoping my legs wouldn’t fail me. They didn’t fail me, and I was able to realise a dream,” he smiled.


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