The opportunity in Portugal
The long-awaited opportunity for Whelan came through Glassdrive/Q8/Anicolor. A call from Rúben Pereira changed his course to Portugal:
I was racing in Spain and got a message from Rúben Pereira. He reached out to me and asked me a few questions. I showed him some of my training data and I said that I wanted to keep racing my bike. When Rúben came with the opportunity, I was really excited, but I also didn’t know what I was signing in terms of what the team would be like, what the riders would be like, my teammates, what the staff would be like, what the racing would be like. I asked a few people about the team and the racing. I just asked a few World Tour Portuguese riders, and they said I absolutely should accept this opportunity, that I would get to race races that would suit me well, in good weather conditions and that cycling in Portugal is passionate and exciting. And the team would support me 100%, always within a good environment, with people just happy about what they’re doing. And I said ‘Okay, here we go.’. Since then, I’ve been racing in Portugal. I’ve already participated in several races on the national calendar, as well as some UCI races.
In fact, Jimmy has already worn the team jersey in four races, all of which were held in Portugal. His debut took place at the GP Anicolor at the end of May, finishing this two-stage race in 15th place in the overall classification. A week later, he participated in the GP Beiras e Serra da Estrela, rounding off essential team work with a place within the top 20 overall (18th) and securing the second position in the mountain classification. He achieved the same overall placement at the GP Douro Internacional in the heart of July. Already gearing up for the Volta a Portugal, he stood out in the Troféu Joaquim Agostinho, finishing in 5th place overall and securing a 6th place finish on the Alto do Montejunto climb in the final stage of the race, contributing to the team’s dominant performance in the event.
Whelan’s adaptation to Portugal has been going wonderfully well, especially because he finds some similarities with his home country, Australia:
It’s like racing in Australia, you have the eucalyptus and the ocean, the sea breeze. It’s really similar to Australia. It’s crazy. Sometimes I feel like I’m racing in Australia with 150 Portuguese friends.