New road race world champion Rui Costa (Movistar) was given a hero’s welcome when he returned home to Portugal for the first time since winning the rainbow jersey in Tuscany three weeks ago.
The Movistar rider was cheered and congratulated by a huge crowd at the Sá Carneiro, airport near Porto. He walked out of the arrivals area wearing his rainbow jersey and white shorts and was greeted by his family before signing hundreds of autographs and posing for photographs. The thousand-strong crowd sang Costa’s name and gave him a huge cheer, with people packing the balcony and stairs overlooking the arrivals area.
Costa won the world title in Florence on Sunday, September 26 but stayed at his base in Zurich before making his debut in the rainbow jersey at Il Lombardia. He then travelled to China for the Tour of Beijing for the final race of his season.
“What a great reception I got yesterday ... I am still amazed at the amount of people who attended my arrival,” Costa wrote on his Facebook page after announcing his homecoming a few days earlier.
“To all my family and friends, all distinguished and anonymous who insisted on coming to welcome me, THANK YOU. Thanks also to all those who could not attend but were with me in their thoughts.”
In a press conference, Costa promised to "continue to be an example” for the hundreds of young cyclists who greeted him at the airport.
"It's a year I’ll never forget. I know it will also be very tricky to match a year like this, but I will not lower my guard and I’ll continue to work hard and hope that next year will be as good as this," he said.
“I’m world champion, and I’m looking forward to my year in the rainbow jersey. My rivals will perhaps look at me differently but I’ll stay the same and hope to keep on winning.”
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