The Portuguese rider will compete in China before moving to Lampre in 2014 and is bringing his rainbow jersey with him. After riding in support of Alejandro Valverde at Il Lombardia, Beijing will provide Rui Costa with his first opportunity to race for victory since becoming world champion.
This will be the 27-year-old’s second appearance at the final WorldTour race of the year. He finished ninth in last year’s edition, but the addition of the first ever summit finish could alter his prospects.
“I hope to do well here. Winning in Florence was a dream come true and it is an honour to come to Beijing and race in my world champion’s jersey,” said Rui Costa.
Costa’s decision to change teams was driven by a lack of opportunities at Movistar. The presence of Valverde and Nairo Quintana in the team limited Rui Costa’s chances to lead in the grand tours.
Rui Costa joined the team in 2009 when they were under the guise of Caisse d’Epargne. Since then has developed into a strong general classification and one-day contender, with two victories in the Tour de Suisse and the GP Cycliste Montréal.
“In my five years at Movistar I’ve made some very good friends,” he said at the opening press conference for the Tour of Beijing. “It has been a great team to ride for and I’ve learned and grown a lot as a rider in these years. I hope that we will meet each other on the road soon.”
Rui Costa has already set himself some lofty goals for his year in the rainbow jersey, including a high overall finish at the Tour de France. Although Rui Costa won two stages of this year’s race, he lost his position in the top ten on general classification after he stopped to wait for Valverde when he suffered mechanical problems on stage 13.