Valongo, on the outskirts of Porto, was the second stop for the Taça de Portugal the weekend following the British NPS in Plymouth. Seb and Tom were sitting 5th and 9th respectively in the series following a successful first round earlier in the year, and the team were keen to continue that run of form. Unfortunately Tom sustained an ankle injury in Plymouth (later confirmed as a torn retinaculum ligament requiring surgery) and was forced to sit out the race while we awaited the results of various tests.
The course was not as technical as some of the other venues on the Taça de Portugal circuit, but wet weather had descended which made it very slippery under tyre and incredibly challenging. Favourably, the course also contained some seriously steep climbing – over 200m vertical gain per 3.5km lap, and not a single flat section.
Hamish – “You can rely on the Taça de Portugal to provide a great race track, and once again they came up with the goods in Valongo. The constant rain made it technical, especially the downpour just before the start. I knew that the steep climbs would be good for us, and in particular Seb who has been carrying great form.”
Both gridded on the front row, Seb and Hamish had great starts making the split to the front group.
Seb – “On the first lap I made my way across to the leader, but decked it on one of the slick downhills. It took me another lap to bridge back, but I was feeling really strong on the climbs and was making good headway on those sections in particular.”
As the race unfolded Seb battled for the podium spots, eventually having to slow down on the last lap to combat cramping hamstrings and finish a strong 3rd. On the podium. Hamish rode consistently throughout the race, but also began to suffer in the finale, slipping back a couple of places late on to 9th by the finish.
Hamish – “I was pleased to feel stronger again and back more to race speed. The conditions made it a real battle of attrition, and that caused me to suffer a lot towards the end, but it was a solid result to move forwards from.”
Seb – “Great to be back on the podium again in Portugal. I liked the steep climbs, and I thought the crowd was fantastic at creating a brilliant atmosphere and supporting all the racers. That always makes it a pleasure to come to the Taça de Portugal.”
Once again two riders in the top 10, and a podium spot made it a great weekend racing in tough conditions.