Monday, July 26, 2021
HomeBlogsTavira Pro Tomás Swift-Metcalf's BlogThe Volta a Portugal 2013 - the Story So Far...

The Volta a Portugal 2013 – the Story So Far…



This Volta, the Volta a Portugal 2013 and I really feel lucky to get here. My form is good, possibly the best ever. Obviously I get the odd pang of paranoia; I think twice if I drink a beer, worry about food – kind of stupid really.

I slimmed down by three kgs for the Volta, which is basically my lightest ever racing weight and only now am I realising I’ve got margin to loose more.

One thing about being a roulleur/domestique here is that there’s really no pressure to loose loads of weight like the climbers, who have to get really skinny.

There was the usual presentation for the Volta. We were in a mad rush and it was stressful.

* * *


The prologue was not quite within the UCI regulations; the race got dispensation to make a short, 1km circuit that we had to go round five times in a TTT.

This was ok, and I actually enjoyed rushing over the cobbles and bumps. But the team was somewhat disorganised, which was a pity.

I think I could have gone faster by myself, I felt I hadn’t done anything despite dropping back a lot to collect teammates and covering loads of gaps.

We chose a strategy that didn’t work out, we hadn’t practiced it enough, we weren’t able to recon. the stage, there were very inexperienced members in our group, some of us made mistakes…

We finished last – well not “last last”,  but the last team; there were another 40 guys behind us.

I was really unhappy with how it went, I felt good myself.

Oh well, you live and learn.

* * *

Stage One

Stage One was atypical; there was a strong headwind and the stage was very long, 203km to be precise, and no one wanted to do anything, so we pottered along at 30kph.

It was a nightmare!

We were given some freedom to get in breakaways and I took my chance 50km from the line.

The breaks that had gone earlier in the day were all given 10’, 15 minutes by the peloton by I was given no margin… Still it earned me the combativity award.

I lost some time bringing a leader back to the pack 10km out.

Volta a Portugal 2013
On the Volta podium after Stage One.

Stage Two

Stage Two was a fast, hilly stage with a lot of teams seemingly interested.

Nothing much happened for me – I was on water carrying duty.

The finish was spectacular and eventful, with one team chasing down it’s own rider who was sure to win …

Stage Three

Stage Three and climbs at last, after that horrendous, long, flat, windy stage we had some mountain tests, which I passed well.

I had a lot of duties carting water about, something especially important on hilly stages as feeding is more complicated.

A lot of guys were already suffering.

* * *

Stage Four

A nightmare.

I developed an enormous saddle sore that requires antibiotics.

And the stage was very hard; MTN kept the pace high throughout, the temperature was 47ºC in place and one of my bottle cages broke.

I still did my duties well though – I got to the mountain (it was a summit finish) in such a state I had to lay down 4km from the line. I really had no energy. I managed to finish the stage, but that was definitely one of my top three worst ever days on the bike.

* * *

Stage Five

This was supposedly a transition stage.

It was hot again, 43ºC and I was the first at the back to get water. Our car is miles back since we’re not doing well on GC and so took an eternity to get back up to the peloton.

During this time a team decided to go to the front and put a brutal pace on. And I was right there at the back in the worst position possible.

I didn’t actually get water, I had to grit my teeth for the next 40 km, holding on for dear life, which really took it out of me.

On the last climb of the day, 2 km from the top I just didn’t have the heart to dig deep and found a good gruppeto to roll home in. I kind of regretted that afterwards.

* * *

Rest Day

Rest at last! The rest day is a weird thing; you begin unwinding even as you sleep before the rest day and the day itself flies by.

I’m not a fan myself. I think I’d rather grit my teeth, keep ‘race mode’ switched on and just get through the whole race.

Anyway, I’ll try and write something a little more in depth and about the second week after the race.

‘Til then,  Tomás.

Volta a Portugal 2013

Related Articles

Cayn Theakston – Worcester’s Portuguese Hero

Here’s a question for you; “How many British riders have won a three-week continental stage race?” Here’s a clue: the answer isn’t “none”. In 1988, 23 year-old Cayn Theakston from Worcester who never had a day’s coaching in his life, fought and won in one of the toughest arenas in Europe to claim the 19-stage Volta a Portugal, overcoming crashes, mountains, horrendous roads and even combines within his own team to record a win which is remembered in Portugal to this day.

Volta a Portugal 2012 – Stage Three: Vila Nova de Cerveira – Fafe

176.1km, 2100m ascent from Vila Nova de Cerveira to Fafe. We’re in the Minho, in the far north western corner of Portugal. It’s a wonderful place and feels like home away from home. It’s tough for racing though, it’s extremely hilly; you never go well, you’re never comfortable.

Volta a Portugal 2012 – Prequel

Such a big fuss is made about the Volta that people forget there are other good and important races on the calendar. As ever, we put all our eggs in the one basket. I never really understood this.

The Volta a Portugal 2013, Part Two & Postscript

The fact I feel tranquil now after the Volta a Portugal is the fact I’ve got an education, a business and I have lived my dreams as a cyclist. I’m looking forward and I’ll keep riding my bike. I love cycling.

La Volta a Portugal 2012 – Stage Ten: Sintra-Lisboa

Stage Ten of la Volta a Portugal 2012 started with a ceremonial 37km where we pottered along behind the winners. I felt awful.

Volta a Portugal 2012 – Stage Five: Armamar-Oliveira de Azemeis

176.9km, 3000m ascent. This Volta a Portugal 2012 stage was a tough one, we had a huge mountain right at the start and several others to follow. The roads were crummy also, which made descending awkward.

At Random

An Open Letter to Mr. Pat McQuaid

Dear Mr. McQuaid, I'm so glad you've decided on VinoKolGate that: "Yes, there are rules about that. It is clear, if there is evidence, there could be penalties after an investigation on our part." I'm sure that you're aware that there have been arrests in the UK for the hacking of mobile phones and email accounts, and that there's not a court in Europe which would accept evidence obtained by hacking, but I realise that these are mere bagatelles to the might of the UCI and those Eastern riders have to be sorted out.

Helen Wyman’s Cyclocross World Cup 2010, Rounds 1 and 2

It seems like a lifetime ago that we (that's the 'royal we' i.e me, Helen Wyman and hubby Stef) were packing the car and heading off for the first world cup of the season in Aigle, Switzerland.

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 1: Düsseldorf, 14km ITT. Thomas in the Rain!

Due to the fact that I read about/talk about/write about bike racing every day I have a monstrous ego regarding le velo and hate to get anything on the subject wrong. However, I would be delighted if the following statement proves to be erroneous; ‘Christopher Froome of Team Sky has won the Tour de France already.’

Traksel takes Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2010 – Best Belge in 8th Place

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2010... "Opgave door storm" says the headline, of Tom Boonen - 'gave up during the storm'; I don't ever remember seeing that headline about Eddy Merckx. For the last four years, Kuurne Brussels Kuurne is where QuickStep have pulled the fat out of the fire on the Sunday, after a disastrous Het Volk on the Saturday.

The VeloVeritas Years – 2011: RIP Wouter Weylandt

When Martin suggested we use the RIP Wouter Weylandt obituary as our 2011 article in our 'The VeloVeritas Years' series it stirred memories of such a sad day. It's not something I've mentioned to many but on that day of despair I had been waiting to speak to Wouter at the Leopard-Trek bus before the race - but with the depart looming we had to vamoose and get a head start on the peloton. I sometimes wonder that if we'd waited a little longer, met Wouter and spent even a few moments with him then perhaps it may have changed the whole dynamic of his day?

Laurence Morgan and the TI Raleigh Vintage Cycling Club

Laurence Morgan from Perth was a team TI Raleigh fan back in the 80’s having fallen in love with a 753 Raleigh he saw at the 1982 Scottish Health Race. It’s been an enduring love affair and this year he started the TI Raleigh Vintage Cycling Club – good timing with ‘retro’ the word of the moment. At VeloVeritas we like a man who’s obsessed with 70’s and 80’s bikes and riders; we decided we’d best ‘have a word...