António Morgado left his anonymity for good after his excellent second place at the World Road Championships held last August in Glasgow, Scotland. In a recent interview he talks about his move to UAE Team Emirates, upbringing and relationship with the Volta a Portugal.
But Morgado is no stranger to the limelight, as a year earlier in Wollongong, Australia, he sprinted with Emil Herzog for the chance to wear the rainbow jersey in juniors until the last meter, but was beaten by the German.
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Now, the Caldas da Raínha rider will face a new challenge after a year with the Hagens Berman Axeon team. It's none other than João Almeida's team, UAE Team Emirates. As a curiosity, both António Morgado and João Almeida have in common the place where they were born, grew up and started cycling, a small village called A-dos-Francos.
But although Morgado and Almeida come from the same town and have followed the same path from their first steps in cycling to the present day, there are characteristics that set them apart. We all know that João Almeida is a conservative racer, who doesn't show off much, but has enormous consistency. Morgado, on the other hand, is outgoing, likes attacking cycling, doesn't shy away from a fight and has only one thought guiding him when he gets on his bike: to win.
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With the transition to the World Tour, his life will change again, but Morgado, who has been coveted by the biggest teams in the international peloton, isn't worried: "I had the opportunity to choose the team I wanted to go to, because almost all the best ones wanted to count on me. It was a difficult decision, but I chose UAE and I hope it was a good choice," he said in an interview with Ciclismo a Fundo.
As to whether João Almeida had influenced his choice, Morgado was peremptory: "No. I asked João Correia (his agent, ed.). I think that within the options I had, it was the best choice at all levels (coaching, mentoring and also economically). Almeida had no influence on my choice".
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Asked about his training with the UAE in the coming months, his anxiety about being able to work alongside stars like Tadej Pogacar and the calendar for 2024, Morgado was direct in his answers, "My season isn't over yet, I have a few races ahead of me and I want to be well enough to be able to fight for a good place in those races. The calendar... I don't know yet, it's too early. I could possibly fight in races or have another mission, like taking part in the classics. But honestly, I'm not thinking about going to UAE Team Emirates just yet."
Having left Portugal at the age of 18 to embrace a future that looks very promising, it's undeniable to ask Morgado if he would ever have thought of taking part in his country's biggest cycling event, the Volta a Portugal. His answer was as simple as it was direct: "I've never dreamed of taking part in the Volta a Portugal and if I did, it would be a bad sign. I enjoy watching it, but I have no intention of taking part," which is a good demonstration of the ambition that has always accompanied him.
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Morgado ends the interview allusively and reveals his biggest secret to success: "If someone is working harder, I want to train harder. I know that cycling is an extremely demanding sport, but I enjoy it. I've always wanted to be the best and I work for it. I always give it my all."