The GP Torres Vedras – Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho concluded with a strong final showing from Gavin Mannion, ably supported in the finale by new recruit Keegan Swirbull. The latter produced a stellar performance in the closing kilometers to catch back onto the leading group after an untimely mechanical that necessitated a bike change.
This was not the only piece of bad luck for the team, with four bike changes, plus two separate crashes that took out Emerson Oronte and Nathan Brown. The quality of the Portuguese road surfaces left a lot to be desired, and the last part of the race was chaotic to say the least.
Mannion and Swirbull finished together atop the 4 km climb to the finish, placing eighth and ninth respectively, places that translated directly to their final GC positions as well.
Mannion has been on sparkling form this year since racing resumed and he explained that his training during lockdown was a big part of this.
“Considering all the carnage, I’m happy with the end result and to continue to perform. It’s definitely been a very long stretch of time for me to hold my fitness, but I did a massive training block during quarantine so I think that’s paying dividends now.”
Keegan Swirbull is a new face on the team having joined as a trainee for the team’s Portuguese calendar, and he too was delighted with the way the race played out – given the circumstances.
“I was very nervous coming in as I have very little European experience and I haven’t raced in over a year. Today was a bit crazy for me personally. I broke my bike so had to chase solo, full-gas for a good 15-20 minutes and I barely made it back in time to try and help Gavin on the finishing climb. My legs were pretty hosed after the chase but I did my best to try and follow the plan of setting him up with a steady pace up the climb.”
Rally Cycling’s GC squad will now head for the Volta ao Portugal starting September 27.
GP Torres Vedras general classification
1. Frederico Figueiredo (Atum general / Tavira / Maria Nova Hotel) 7:10:28
2. Luis Gomes (Kelly / InOutBuild / UD Oliveirense) +5”
3 . Luís Mendonça (Efapel) +8”
4. Gustavo César Veloso (W52 / FC Porto) +25”
5. Luis Fernandes (Radio Popular Boavista) “
6. Gonçalo Carvalho (Radio Popular Boavista) +26″
7. João Benta (Radio Popular Boavista) +27″
8. Gavin Mannion (Rally Cycling) “
9. Keegan Swirbull (Rally Cycling) +34″
10. Rafael Silva (Efapel) +41″