Home > Rider Of The Week > RIDER OF THE WEEK – Joao Correia

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Joao Correia


Photo © 2009 Cervélo TestTeam & Jason Gould

The former Portuguese National Champion (ok, at age 6, but still!) is one of the new members of the pro-peloton this year. He raced pro when he was younger, then decided to enter the media industry, but luckily for us, he decided he’d rather ride his bike than sit in an office. He lost more than 25 kg and came back to the pro ranks with Bissel Pro Cycling in 2008. He is smart, funny and nice – which makes for great interview. Thanks to Joao for taking the time! Enjoy!

-What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

My father got me started on riding and took me to my first race when I was six years old in 1981. It was the Portuguese National Championships for six year olds and it was just one other kid and I.

That was my first race and the other kid somehow crashed going over a water main on the street and I remember that I wanted to wait for him but my father who was running besides me said to keep going.  That’s how I became national champion.  I didn’t crash the guy I swear.

-What have you sacrificed for cycling?

I think every athlete at all levels sacrifices something for their sport.  Geez I don’t know, I think youth went out the window.  I never really did things like other kids while I was growing up.  But you get some much from it like discipline and maturity that it was a small price to pay.  Recently my biggest sacrifices are tied to my family.  I have a lot of support from my wife and children but they pay a heavy price for me being away in Europe while they are back in New York.  I worry a lot about the price that my son is paying for not having his father around at such a young age.

-What is your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement so far on the bike is just getting across the finish line and helping the team as asked.  To me personally that really is a big achievement considering that I was working until December 1st and really was out of the sport for almost fifteen years.

-Do you look up to anyone? Who, why?

Yes of course.  I look up to a lot of people.  I think it’s important to have good examples in your life.  Everybody has hard times at some point and having good role models can help you make the right decisions.  Probably one of the people that I look up to mostly is my former boss Chris Lambiase.  He is somebody who helped guide my career off the bike from early on and was an excellent example of how you can succeed in business and still maintain your values.  When I became a father and a husband he was a constant gut check.

On the bike probably Inigo Cuesta who is one of my current teammates.  Inigo has been a professional for 17 years and to me is a fine example of what a professional rider should be.  Basically professional in every aspect of his craft.

-What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

For me if I could finish every race I enter and help the team as asked it would be a perfect season.  On a personal level I’d like to become Portuguese National Champion and where the national champion’s jersey in races outside Portugal.

-What 3 things would you change about cycling?

That’s a tough question and I’m not an authority.  I think we just need to continue to become a sport that is truly professional.  We can’t achieve that without having a clear vision of where the sport is going and unity amongst all the stake holders in the sport: Teams, riders, race organizers and governing bodies.  If you can achieve that then everything else comes pretty easy.  Right now I think it’s a fragmented sport.

-What 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist?

The sacrifices you make as a cyclist is one.  It’s a very hard sport that takes a lot of commitment and passion and I am proud to be part of such a sport.  The fact that the sport is getting cleaner and cleaner and being part of that changing culture is something that makes me proud to be a cyclist.  And last the ability to put in all this work and then see how the boy reacts.  It’s a sport that if you do the right things in training, nutrition, racing and resting you are rewarded personally as an athlete.

–     If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (dead, alive, or fictitious) who would they be?

Another tough one.  I would say for sure my two grandfathers who have passed away, one whom I never met since he passed away when my father was young.  My wife’s maternal grandmother.  She talks about her all the time and I would really have liked to have met her.  Charlie Rose would be good just to direct the conversation in the right direction and I’d leave the last seat empty for now to figure out just before dinner whom I should invite.  Maybe somebody like God.  I’ve got lots of questions.  I’d make sure my uncle cooked and I’d pick all the wines.  And trust me there would be lots of great wines.

and a few questions fans have suggested;

-How is it being on a team with Thor Hushovd and Gabriel Rasch?

It’s great.  I obviously knew of them before coming to the team and they were the two people who helped me the most when I first got to the team.  Gabriel helped me find my first place here and I’m living in the same city as Thor and both him and his wife have gone out of their ways several times to help me get settled.  I train with him most of the time and it’s nice to see such a successful athlete also be such a great person.  I know he once bumped into a few Norwegian cyclists out riding and they got talking and he invited them for coffee.  How many pro athletes would do that?  I think that is a really unique thing about cycling.  The athletes are approachable and happy to talk to people.  There is no field or fence to stop you from going up to a rider and speaking with them.

-Would you rather wear World Champion, Maglia Rosa or Yellow jersey?

They are all special jerseys in their own right but if I had to pick it would be the World Champion’s jersey.  You wear that one for a year and get custom kit made for you so you never have to look for it in the laundry.  No more writing your name on clothing.

-How is it being in Cervèlo? Do you get a chance to get to know everyone?

It’s a great team.  Very unique and a special culture of racing, product innovation and fan access that I think is unique in professional cycling.  I have gotten to know all the riders and staff since we’ve had two camps where everybody was present and generally the race programs tend to be mixed but you end up staying in touch with most of the people you’ve met even if your not racing with them.

-Which race would you most like to win during your career?

-Do you have a favourite charity? If so, which one and why?

Boy were really going for the tough questions here.  I’d say the World Championships or Olympic Games.  To be an Olympic Champion is something that you have for the rest of your life and is very unique.  Same for World Champion.  Chances are pretty small but if were talking about any race then might as well go for the big ones.

I have several charities that I support including the Lance Armstrong Foundation as well as the Davis Phinney Foundation focusing on Parkinson’s disease.  I don’t have a favorite or one that is personally the closest to me since I think most people get close to charities about issues that have touched them personally and both myself and my family have been very blessed by not having many tragedies in our lives.  I try to support as many different issues as possible and think it’s an important civic duty we have as global citizens to support charities and help others that who may be less fortunate.

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