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11-10-2022 | Herman Nekkers

TransPortugal Roads: "A rush of adrenaline"

From 2 to 8 October, CycloWorld reader AnneMarie Pieterse rode with the first edition of TransPortugal Roads. It became an adventure to remember. A day after the event, I spoke to her while she was still bouncing with excitement.


Photo: Friends for life.

What is TransPortugal?

TransPortugal MTB is now a well-known name which celebrated its seventeenth edition this year. AnneMarie participated and saw an announcement of the new event TransPortugal Roads. "I will definitely participate in that," was her first reaction and she kept her word. For both MTB and Road editions, it is self-supporting, meaning you have to find your way with GPS. For the road version, by the way, hardly a problem. The entire route passes through Portugal.

TransPortugal Roads

The event is best described as a stage race with very high-quality organization in breathtaking surroundings. The start is in the north (Braga) and the finish on the south coast (Sagres). In seven days you will cover 1100 kilometers and 18000 meters of climbing. The routes are mainly on Portuguese backroads; sometimes you will see only three cars in one day.

Promotion for TransPortugal Roads was not really done beforehand, so there were only 18 participants at the start. The maximum number is 120, for next year the organization is aiming for 50.


Photo: It's racing time.

Service level

According to AnneMarie, the quality of the event is top of the bill. There are three participation and lodging packs for riders and supporters:

All overnight stays are at 4 or 5-star hotels.

Extra service can be booked in addition:

Because of those service packs, all you really have to do is ride for seven days. About the mechanical support, AnneMarie says, "The mechanic is the best I have ever encountered. I trust my bike to few people, but with him I leave it blind. Every day it was cleaned, adjusted and prepared perfectly for the next stage."

The luggage can be left in the hotel lobby in the morning and in the afternoon it is ready again at your room in the next hotel.


Photo: AnneMarie.

The race

AnneMarie, at 41, was not only the only woman, but also the youngest participant. Together with her cycling buddy Hans Maessen, she forms the Dutch contribution. The field of participants is mixed: half make it a real race, the other half try to finish the race. The Dutch did not come for nothing; they are in it to win it.

The first stage is a bit of a test between the participants. After a day or two you already think: how am I going to get through these days? But you then get into a flow of riding, showering, massaging, eating, sleeping. "The rhythm gets used quickly and the cycling got easier and easier for me."

One of the special rules is that riders are given a handicap depending on gender and age. A certain percentage was deducted from each competitor's time. Thus creating a fairer race. As the only woman, she was even flagged off as the winner of stages 5 and 7. It's worth to mention that the stage winner rides the next day in the stage winner's jersey.


Photo: AnneMarie in the stage winner's jersey.

There is serious hard riding and it is really racing. The riders keep an eye on each other every day and there is a demarcation whenever possible. AnneMarie: "The adrenaline was pouring out of my ears. Sometimes I completely died. It really is a race, which makes it beautiful. I have some race experience and know that there will always be a second breath. If I got shaken off once I just knew there would be another chance. Even in the descents. You just have to never give up. If you're struggling, so are the others."

Penalties and safety

The organization is serious when it comes to safety and a fair race course. Penalty minutes will be handed out for taking a different route (this will be checked afterwards), crossing too fast in a dangerous situation or calling the organization's roadside assistance. On the other hand, riders are constantly monitored. If, for example, there is no movement for half an hour, the organization contacts the participant to see if everything is okay.


Photo: Finish of the last stage.

Results

Winner was South African Shane Daniel. AnneMarie captured the bronze. Her mate Hans finished 5th in the final standings.

Check out the full results here.

Conclusion

AnneMarie: "It really is an insane adventure. The organization is very personal. They know you by name and it feels like a real family. Despite the struggle, there is togetherness among the participants. I have made many friendships. Next year I will definitely come back."

Photo: Team NL.

Alle photo's are made by TransPortugal ©.

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