João Correia is the newest addition to Cervelo TestTeam. The Swiss-based Professional Continental team announced the signing Wednesday afternoon.
In an interview with the New York Times, Correia, 34, described how he came to the team by a route vastly different than most riders. The native of Portugal moved to Sleepy Hollow, NY, with his family at age 11. He had started cycling as a child and turned professional in 1995 with a Portuguese team, at the same time he enrolled at Fordham University in New York. The combination didn't work out and he stopped cycling to work full time.
After graduation he went to work for Hearst Corporation and started putting on weight, topping out at 205 pounds. In 2004 he took over as assistant publisher of Bicycling magazine, and soon realized he would have to reduce his weight.
As part of his weight-reduction plan, Correia started riding his bike again seriously, training nightly for at least two hours. He ended up dropping a total of 60 pounds.
In 2007 he rode the Portuguese national championships, where the finished 12th. In 2008 and 2009 he performed the difficult task of working full-time and also riding for the US Continental Bissell Pro Cycling Team.
Now Correia is ready to take the next step of quitting his day job and riding full time. He already attended Cervelo's training camp earlier this month on Tenerife, although the official announcement of his signing was only made today.
"I am excited and humbled to be riding with Cervélo TestTeam this season," he said. “This is an exciting opportunity for me to do what I really want to do. Many people have dreams of this kind, but most don't get to live the dream, and I am.
"It's been a tough road back to this level after leaving the sport in the mid 90's but I feel that the work I put in at Bissell in the last two years have given me a solid foundation to try and make the jump back into the upper echelons of the sport.”
As for his new team, he continued, “I have found people who share similar values to mine and who believe in me. They are very committed to making the world of cycling a better sport for athletes, sponsors and fans alike and I'd like to add my small part to help them do that."
Gerard Vroomen, Cervelo's co-founder, was equally enthusiastic. "We've known João for some time, and we actually first discussed this idea a few years ago. Now the time is right to actually do it.
“No doubt it will be a difficult transition for him, but we're not in a rush,” Vroomen noted. “And of course, besides his cycling talent and drive he brings a unique perspective to the pursuit of our other team goals; product development, fan access and hospitality."