Xistopedia

Granfondo Aldeias do Xisto: Through the mountains and valleys of Fundão and Pampilhosa

Granfondo Aldeias do Xisto: Through the mountains and valleys of Fundão and Pampilhosa
active nature
João Moreira and Flávia Lopes were the winners of the 8th edition of the race that brought together around 600 athletes.

This year’s Granfondo Aldeias do Xisto started to the sound of Bombos de Lavacolhos’ drums. At 8.30 am on 29th September, about six hundred cyclists pass through the landscapes of the Aldeias do Xisto, between Fundão and Pampilhosa da Serra, as part of one of the competition’s three stages: Granfondo (141km), Mediofondo (108km) and Minifondo (67km).
 

We were going at around 30km/hour when António Queiroz, from Ultra Spirit Sports, asked me if I have any “fear of driving at high speeds”.  “No”, I replied. I even like it”, he said already deep in thought and anticipating the adrenaline that the body generates in these situations. “It’s just that, on the descents, the cyclists go faster than us. We’ll have to speed up”, he warns. This was indeed the case at some points, where it was necessary to gain ground on the athletes, and ensure that there were no obstacles so that everyone would reach the finish in one piece. Safe and sound.

“Still a bit of work organising this event, isn’t it?”, I asked, by way of an ice-breaker. António Queiroz laughed. “Just a bit”, he replied, with a lot said in just a few words. He then explained that it is a continual job, with the work extending throughout the time between each edition.

Every now and then, you get a phone call. To confirm distances and positions, or to resolve one or other detail that, on these occasions, comes up at the last minute. António Queiroz blows his whistle, waves and gives instructions to the officials whenever necessary, and greets the members of the public that, here and there, are waiting for the athletes to pass.


Overall, it was a smooth trip. And just as well. The scenic views that surround us deserve to be taken in and, as they are so magnificent, they make us want to stop at every moment, jump out of the car and take a photo of what is only a snippet of what the eyes can see. The mountains and valleys, the lost houses, the grandeur of the Panasqueira mining complex and the magnificent views over to the Santa Luzia dam are some of the vistas that endow this race with something extraordinary and unique. We postponed a longer visit for another day.
 

The end of a cycle

For the coordinator of ADXTUR - Schist Villages Tourism Development Agency, the Granfondo Aldeias do Xisto translates into “the ability to see our endogenous resources creating social value, activities, dynamics and excitment that can then become an offer”. Paulo Fernandes also stresses that, more than the number of participants, what matters is “the geographical dispersion of the participants and the great attraction that the event generates, especially in the Spanish market”, from where most of the foreign athletes come.

Over the last few years, activity tourism has gained increasing numbers of fans and is currently, according to Adriana Rodrigues, of Central Portugal Tourism, one of the most significant products in the Central Region’s offer. “There are more and more people concerned with sustainability who, as a result, seek this type of activity”, she said. Events such as the Granfondo, where sports practice is combined with “tranquillity, calm and inner peace” thus play “an important role in enhancing the Countryside”. As a sportsperson, Adriana Rodrigues believes that those who participate in these initiatives, in direct contact with nature, establish an “emotional bond” with the area and feel like returning to “share these emotions with their loved ones”. This is why the Central Portugal Tourism has been strengthening its focus on attracting events that stimulate direct interaction with the area, with the communities that inhabit within it and, of course, with nature, seeking to generate more interest and publicise the Central Portugal as a tourist destination of excellence.

 

With more than 600 participants, this “is not just another Granfondo”, says António Queiroz, in a spirit of evenhandedness. “With this 8th Granfondo we will end one phase and continue to work with the Aldeias do Xisto. We are discussing and exploring new formats so that there will be novelties next year”, an idea he had already mentioned when presenting the event.

The Deputy Mayor of Fundão shares that opinion. “This is a very important event”, bearing in mind that the bicycle as a tourist attraction factor is one of the county’s focuses. “Our challenge is to get people looking at this area differently from others that have races like this, and that they come back later to get to know it better”, explained Miguel Gavinhos. At the end of the event, the mayor spoke of a “highly positive outcome” and expressed his satisfaction with the “very successful partnership” that unites the Aldeias do Xisto, the counties of Fundão and Pampilhosa da Serra and Central Portugal Tourism.

João Moreira and Flávia Santos come in first

85. This was one of the numbers that, at the end of the 8th edition of the Granfondo Aldeias do Xisto, remained in our memory and deserved a special mention. This was the age of the Briton, Don Forester, one of the more than 150 foreign cyclists and the oldest in the race, who showed that the Granfondo is definitely open to all lovers of the sport: “I had already been around the Aldeias do Xisto about three years ago”, he told us and, already quite emotional, he described his experience in this Granfondo: “fantastic organisation, welcoming people and beautiful landscapes”.

 


An opinion, moreover, shared by other protagonists throughout the day. Unlike 2018, when the winner covered much of the course alone, this year the victory was hotly contested right to the end. João Moreira, of Love Tiles, was first to cross the finishing line, taking another trophy for his Granfondos’ collection. He arrived at the end, well satisfied with his place. “It’s a well organised race, safe and with a good level of competition. The course is very beautiful and just as hard”, he said to sum things up. André Resende, of Padeirinhas Sobre Rodas, and Rafael Ferreira, also of Love Tiles, came in second and third, respectively.
 


the women’s category, Flávia Lopes, from Vasconha BTT Vouzela, repeated her 2018 success and once again was in first place on the podium. “It’s a challenging course, with long climbs, quite steep, and therefore, hard”, she said. “I like coming to this area”, she finished, after mentioning that she recently spent holidays in the Aldeia do Xisto, Janeiro de Cima. Isabel Cintas, from Club Ciclista Tierra De Piñero Bike, crossed the finish line in second place and Cláudia Daniel, from Ribapedal Bike Shop, took third.
 


After having “trained a lot in the last month”, Paulo Pereira, from Vulcal/Ccc, came in first in the Mediofondo. “I have never been here before, and I was surprised. The route is really spectacular and when I get the chance I want to come back here to get to know it better”, she confessed. Also on the podium were, coming in second place, João Fonte-Boa, of Gdr Canaviais Comprarcasa Évora, and, coming third, André Costa, of Westbike.
 


Ana Neves, of the Bike & Nutrition Shop team, was at the top of the classification for the Mediofondo, followed by Filomena Gomes, from Ontrisports, and Aline Correia, who raced individually.
 


In the Minifondo category, Rui Pinto, of Love Tiles, was the winner, followed by Hélder Campinho, from Proteu Cycling Team, and Miguel Lourenço, who competed individually.
 


In the women’s category, the podium consisted of Liliana Aguiar, from Btt Retiro Das Adegas/ Churrasqueira Da Quinta, Ana Gaspar, of 5Quinas Municipio De Albufeira- Cdasj, and Ana Soldado, who also competed individually.
 


Consult the complete list of winners here.

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