Just a fortnight away from the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, the Brazilian athletes competing at this week's Tour do Rio have also been using their home UCI 2.1 event as important preparation.
The five-stage race through the state of Rio Janeiro saw two of the Brazilian athletes who have already qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games in action – Rafael Andriato (Petroli Firenze) and Pan American champion Gregolry Panizo (Clube Dataro de Ciclismo/Foz do Iguaçu). The other two athletes to have qualified are twice Pan American Under 23 champion Gideoni Monteiro and Garmin-Cervelo's Maurilo Fischer, who took out the national championship in June for the second time.
Speaking with Cyclingnews following the conclusion of the stage race, national head coach Ternico Hernandes said that he was encouraged by what the athletes, both those who have already made the cut and those on the verge, had achieved over the week.
"You could see Rafael Andriato's performance – so I'm very happy about that," he said. "Both Gregolry Panizo and Jose Eriberto, they're on the way up and developing."
Andriato finished 15th on the general classification, his end result taking a hit following a tough day in the mountains on Stage 4. The 23-year-old, who will join Pro Continental team Farnese Vini next season, did, however, come away with a victory on Stage 2, a second place on Stage 1 and third overall in the points classification. Panizo claimed 23rd overall while Jose Eriberto was 49th.
Renato Seabra, who was set to attend this month's London-Surrey Cycle Classic which doubles at the 2012 Olympic test event, will now be replaced by Fischer after the Clube Dataro de Ciclismo/Foz do Iguaçu rider crashed out of Stage 4 of the Tour do Rio following a nasty collision with a barrier on a tricky descent.
Hernandes wore a sly grin when discussing the parcours for the Olympic course, explaining that while it's been "built for Mark Cavendish" it would also play into the hands of Andriato and Fischer.
"I'm inviting the guys to fight to a medal, not to just take part in the Games," he said. "Maurilo was fifth in the world championships [in 2005 – ed.] and Gregolry and Rafael are doing really well so I think we can be in with a chance. No one can predict what will happen but we will do our best."
As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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