On Sunday 20 June, José Neves was crowned as the new Portuguese road champion, pulling on the coveted red and green jersey on the podium in Castelo Branco. It was a special victory, because the Évora rider was up against some of the biggest names in cycling, that it is his first national title, and it’s our first road elite title too. Neves’ Racevox writing a notable entry into the SwiftCarbon history book.

With the start / finish in Castelo Branco, the title was decided over a grippy 192km course – an 84km loop to the north, followed by four tighter 22km laps. As a national championship should be, it was a tough race in terms of the terrain and also the competition. Neves had to fend off some of the best in the game, including Rui Oliveira from team UAE-Team Emirates (who placed second), Nelson Oliveira from team Movistar and João Almeida of Deceuninck - Quick Step.

Neves’ team W52 FC Porto attacked the race from the beginning, forcing the peloton to break up into several groups. There were attempts at breakaways, which were kept on a short leash, in no small way thanks to the efforts of the Portuguese squad. Even though the ferocity of the pace influenced the race early on, the real impact was felt on the shorter four-lap circuit.

At the bell indicating the final lap a group of 15 riders had formed, with a significant gap. In the hardest part of the circuit, the 25-year-old attacked, using it as a springboard. He quickly gained a minute’s advantage – the race-defining move. It’s every rider’s dream to win a big race like this considering they get to celebrate it all year in the national jersey, and made even more special by finishing solo, giving him time to celebrate and savour the biggest moment in his cycling career.

As the gravity of this life-changing win began to sink in, Neves said, "The feeling is of pride and duty fulfilled. It was one of my goals for this year, to podium in the time trial... Being elite national champion is amazing and I expect more national titles! For now, it will be an honour to wear the jersey for a year."

The remaining members of the break arrived 47 seconds later, as Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) and Gaspar Gonçalves (Tavfer – Measindot – Mortágua) rounded out the final podium. "The race was tough. In the initial part there was a climb where a selection could be made. After that I always tried to be in the front, and there was a moment when I saw my rivals suffering so I tried my luck and got a gap and managed to keep it."

Just as perfectly as he’d timed his attack, he’d planned his rise to form flawlessly, leading up the race, with a bronze medal in the individual TT a few days prior. Team W52 FC Porto celebrated with him, claiming back the jersey that had eluded them for several years. For SwiftCarbon, it’ll be a special memento that’ll take pride of place on our wall.