Portuguese cyclist Rui Alberto Faria da Costa became famous for all the wrong reasons in October of last year, but he’s making amends at this year's Dauphiné. Consistent riding has meant that after the individual time trial and before the big mountain stages, the recent recruit of Movistar wears the white jersey of best young rider and lies in fifth place overall.
"I like the high mountain and I hope to go well", Rui Costa told Cyclingnews as he eyes the remaining three stages with great motivation. "I hope for the last three days to be just as good as today and yesterday in the time trial. I’ll ride at the front as much as I can. I’ve recovered very well from the time trial and I’m looking forward to fight in the mountains for a good final position on GC on Sunday."
Cyclingnews readers may recall that Rui Costa was the rider who had a fight with Spanish rider Carlos Barredo at the finish of stage 6 at the Tour de France last year. In August he then found that he had tested positive for methylhexanamine, a substance contained in some nutritional supplements. The same result came out of the laboratory for his brother Mario.
"The substance had reappeared in a number of nutritional supplements and was therefore subject to potential inadvertent use by athletes," according to the World Anti-Doping Agency. Many other athletes from different sports have faced the same problem.
"It’s all resolved now", Rui Costa said in Mâcon. After risking a one-year suspension, he was allowed to race again by anti-doping authorities after five months and found his place back in the team Movistar in early April. His first race since August was the Amstel Gold Race. "I told him he could abandon, but he wanted to finish", Movistar’s directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois told Cyclingnews.
"Had he not crashed in the prologue of the Tour de Romandie, he would have made the top ten overall! He’s obviously fresh and hungry for racing," Ledanois said. At the Swiss World Tour event, he ended up taking eighteenth place overall and fourth on stage two behind Damiano Cunego, Cadel Evans and Alexandre Vinokourov.
In May, Rui Costa won the Vuelta a Madrid overall after winning the difficult queen stage.
"His level is superior to last year", Ledanois commented. "He’s scheduled for the Tour de France, so I don’t want him to be burned. The next three days at the Dauphiné will be interesting for him to show his real value. I don’t think he can make the top 3 but if he finishes between fifth and tenth overall, it would make it a nice Dauphiné for us. Riders like David Lopez and Benat Intxausti are ready to help him in the mountains. He’s confident and serene. I know he can climb very well up to 1500 metres of altitude, but at 2000 and above, I don’t know."
"I’m still young and I want to see year after year until which level I can improve", said Rui Costa, "but in a three weeks race, I don’t yet know what I can achieve."
The Criterium du Dauphiné continues on Friday with a 210km stage from Parc des Oiseaux to Les Gets.