Xistopedia

The Aldeias do Xisto Granfondo brings together over a thousand cyclists

The Aldeias do Xisto Granfondo brings together over a thousand cyclists
active nature
The seventh edition of the race took place in new landscapes, reinforcing the area’s potential for cycling.

Around a thousand cyclists from 12 countries took part in the 7th Aldeias do Xisto Gran Fondo, which, for the first time, started from Fundão. After six editions in Lousã, the Gardunha, the Açor and the River Zêzere now provided the scenery for an event that reinforces the excellence and potential of the Aldeias do Xisto for cycling all year round, whether for leisure or competition.

This change of venue for the Gran Fondo, which is part of the Cyclin’ Portugal initiative, “is a natural designation”, which brings “new routes” and shows “the richness of the area around the Aldeias do Xisto and everything it has to offer cyclists and fans of cycling”, says the race director, António Queiroz.

The “symbiotic relationship” between sport and tourism is the idea stressed by the coordinator of ADXTUR - Schist Villages Tourism Development Agency. Paulo Fernandes mentions that the Gran Fondo is “the largest cycling event ever held in Fundão” and offers the chance “to discover”, new areas, noting that there are participants who have never been in the region before.


The ADXTUR coordinator reinforced this idea, calling attention to the fact that this new route offers “landscapes never travelled before which, in some cases, are iconic, such as the climb from Cabeço do Pião to Barroca Grande, Minas da Panasqueira and Alto do Xiqueiro”. Rui Simão also highlighted the “vitality that the race brings to the villages, with its stopping and refuelling points, which also enriches us”.
 

 


“I’ve taken part in a few races and have cycled in a few places, like France and Spain, but this course is the best of all. It’s tough, it’s beautiful, it’s the best”.

These are the words of Bruno Nogueira, winner of the Gran Fondo Aldeias do Xisto. The Addict Bikes athlete, who participated for the first time in this race, isolated himself at the beginning of the race, having covered about 130 km alone. “It’s difficult to do this in a race with high quality participants”, he points out. Bruno Nogueira was comes from in Fundão and, because of that, this was an extra special victory.
 

The podium was completed with Rui Sá, of Love Tiles, in second place, and Daniel Ferreira, of Danibikes - Scott, who qualified in third place.

In the female section, the winner was Flávia Lopes, of Vasconha BTT Vouzela. Inês Trancoso, of Maiatos/Reabnorte, was second, and Guadalupe Barrena, of Team Bikeshop, took third place.

Michel Machado was the fastest to cover the 110 km of the Mediofondo. “It’s always good to win”, said the athlete from Vasconha BTT Vouzela, admitting that the race demanded “great sacrifice” , although he was already familiar with some parts of the course. "I started very far back and it took a lot of effort to overtake all the athletes," he explained. Michel Machado was clearly pleased with the course set by the organization and believes that the change was a good decision.

 

 

Gil Santos, of GDR Canaviais Comprarcasa Évora, was second and Alexandre Guilhoto, da Marques & Pereira/Em3/Os Beirões, came third.

In the female category, Ana Neves, from the Bike & Nutrition Shop, f was the winner. Carina Morais and Rita Reis, Gruppetto D'Arrábida/ /All4bikes teammates, finished the race in second and third place respectively.

The full results are available here.

On balance, everything was positive in the end. António Queiroz explained that the greatest concern is always safety. There were no incidents to report and “most people arrived satisfied”.

It was also with “great satisfaction” that the organisation brought the event to a close, underlining the “great impact” that the event has in the region, due to the number of people it attracts. “Participants end up bringing along their families and friends”, the race director explains.

Families accompany the athletes

This was clearly visible in the streets around the departure and arrival points.

Margarida and José Mesquita take advantage of the shade of the trees in Fundão Municipal Gardens to await the arrival of their son, Nuno Mesquita, one of the participants in the Granfondo.

They came from Moita, Setúbal, to accompany the athlete, who frequently takes part in these races: “Just last week we were in Monção, and before that we were in Régua, Lousã, Castelo de Vide”, said Margarida. In Lousã, as elsewhere, they took the opportunity to go on a walk and, as well as the Castle, they visited the Aldeias do Xisto of Talasnal and Candal.

The day before the race, they also made a point of getting to know Fundão. They are pleased with the new part of the town and the hospitality of the people they come across: “People are friendly and helpful”, they said.
 

 

António Barata and Carla Menezes came from Lousa, Castelo Branco, to support and help Tiago Barata, their son and husband respectively. “He does these courses quite often and so far everything is going well”, said the father. Carla was pleased that the rest was to take place in Fundão.

“The commute is easier and promotes an area that has potential for cycling and which has virtually no races of this magnitude.”

And while we were talking Tiago crossed the finishing line. “It’s a beautiful but hard course”, which matched his expectations: to reach the end, meet people and have fun. “That is the most important thing”, he ensured us.

 


“He arrived tired, but, despite the uneven course, he enjoyed it,” said Ana Margarida Almeida, who came from Póvoa da Galega, Malveira with her two children to accompany her husband, Nuno Almeida, who had entered the Granfondo. It was the first time they had followed a race up close - “he usually comes with a colleague, who couldn’t make it this time” - and it turned out to be “a family trip”. “We even had to rent a house”, little Lourenço enthusiastically shared with us, while his little sister naps in her pram.
 

 

Hotels full

It was a busy weekend for the hotel business in and around Fundão. The deputy mayor of Fundão’s Town Hall reports the “touristic impact” that the Gran Fondo had on the city. “We sold out all the accommodation”, said Miguel Gavinhos, suggesting that, besides the sports angle, there is a “tourism angle that we are interested in promoting”. The deputy mayor underlined that this event “is part of a deeper vision of what Fundão is as a bicycle destination”. According to the deputy mayor, two-wheeled events have already taken place this year which together have involved almost three thousand participants.

Maria Boto came from Covilhã to watch the arrival of the cyclists and praised the initiative. “It’s great that these things happen. It’s beautiful and gives the area a lot of exposure. It’s good for those who participate and for those who are here”, she considered.

Cristina Salvado, whose husband participated in the race, shares the same point of view. “Being at home has advantages on all levels,” she says.

A tough but beautiful course

Américo Silva came from Cascais to participate in the Mediofondo under the colours of EFAPEL, the cycling team supported by the Aldeias do Xisto and of which he is the sporting director.

 


He had already taken part in previous editions, so he was able to compare the routes. “I like both courses, but this one is more beautiful in terms of the landscape”, he said. Participation lived up to expectations. He came in 25th overall, took first place in the Masters C category and had fun. Next to him, Pedro Capela, from Alverca, agreed. “It went well”, he says, considering that, in terms of demands, the courses are similar.
 


The Mediofondo was also the course chosen by João Cruz, from Fundão, who was making his debut in road races. “I had already done a reconnaissance and I thought it was prettier and a better promotional event for the Aldeias do Xisto”, said the athlete from BTT Gardunha. “It was a bit hard. It met my expectations for a race of this kind”, he added, clearly happy with the final result: he was seventh in the general class and took second place on the podium in the Elites category.
 


“What’s going on, miss?”, a gentleman asked us, now at the end of the day. “It was a cycling event, but it’s already over,” we answered. “I live right here and I didn’t realise. Too bad!”, we heard him reply. We responded once more, “Don’t worry, there’ll be more next year”.

Indeed, the Gran Fondo returns to Fundão next year and once again promises to disperse colourful cyclists out over the region’s captivating landscapes and provide fun times that will be remembered in the months to comer.

Text: Andreia Gonçalves

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