Nélson Oliveira was recruited by Team RadioShack from Xacobeo Galicia for the 2011 season, off the back of two years of impressive results. In July he took the silver medal at the U23 European Road Championships in Ankara, as well as the bronze medal at the European TT Championships. He also finished 4th in the U23 TT World Championship in Melbourne this year. We were lucky enough to get some time with him as he headed to his first Team RadioShack training camp (Thanks to Dan Silva). We will be following him with interest this season as he steps up with RadioShack and rides alongside our fellow country man Philip Deignan (Ed: Go Phil!).
Thanks for taking the time Nelson, we really appreciate it
It is a pleasure.
Nelson tell us about your first ever race back in Portugal, and how you got introduced to cycling?
I got introduced to cycling through my father, who was also a professional cyclist and raced in several of the Volta a Portugal. I did my first race in 2003 in the youth category at the age of 14 and I won my first race in 2004, and it was then that I started to dream of becoming a Pro. It is hard to achieve this in Portugal, as the Pro scene is pretty small. It consists of only four professional teams.I stuck with it and for the 2009 season I got a spot on the Cidade de Lugo/Artesania Galicia team. I stayed with them for one season and then moved on to Xacobeo Galicia for the 2010 season.
Growing up in Portugal which riders did you admire?
My two favorite riders to watch were José Azevedo and Lance Armstrong. It is funny how these things work out, but ironically next year José will be my coach, and Lance will be my teammate. If you had told me that back then growing up, I would have said that would be unthinkable.
The 2010 season was a great year for you, with great results in the European Championships and at the Worlds. Is this what we should expect from Nelson going forward? Do you see the TT as your specialty?
I wouldn’t call it my specialty, but for now it is without doubt the discipline where I feel more at ease, and feel the strongest. My goal for the future is to improve my performance in the mountains, and try to not loose continued improvements against the clock. I want to be a better all round rider.
Like father like son, Nelson’s father back in the day, and Nelson on the podium at the European Championships
In that World U23 TT can you remember what your numbers were? We watch these races on TV and often wonder what it takes. It gives us something to think about racing around the park.
I didn’t ride with a power meter during the TT, but my average speed for the coarse (9.81miles/15.8Km) was 27.9mph (45km/h).
What was the atmosphere like down there? We have a lot of Aussies that follow the blog, and they can be a pretty passionate group about their cycling?
The atmosphere was amazing. The sport has had a great expansion in Australia and the fans have grown with it. So despite the distance of getting down there, it was still a great place to hold the worlds and one of the main reasons why it was chosen.
Watching the grand Tours on TV I can’t imagine what it is like to ride through a wall of fans going up an Alpine or Pyrenean climb, How does it feel?
It is a pretty great feeling at any time, but especially while climbing. It is always good to have support from the side of the road when you travel, but it especially helps when your legs start to give on the bigger climbs. You definitely get an extra burst of energy that helps push you on.
What is your favorite race you have done so far as a pro?
Without doubt it was the Road Race at the World Championships at Mendrisio, where I also won the silver medal in the Time Trial. It’s where the best of the best are, and everyone wants to win a medal.
If I could give you a win right here and now, of any of the one day races, what would you choose?
Paris-Roubaix without question.
Do you have a favorite climb?
It has to be the Serra da Estrela, the highest climb in Portugal at 6,539 ft. I have a couple of favorite training rides close to where I live, but nothing in particular. I like to train on a terrain of good medium hills.
You are part of the next generation of young and clean talent in the peleton, what do you think could be done better to keep our sport clean and competitive?
I think if we continue to work the same way we are now in Portugal, we will be ok. The training set-up for young riders is fundamental, it allows you to create the right values from the start, along with the right attitude. From this we will have new riders that will turn into the right sort of idols. We need this for the fans and to bring new sponsors in to the sport.
Tell us about getting the ride with Radioshack? How did it happen? What is your program going to look like next year?
Signing for Radioshack’s is a dream come true. There has been a lot of hard work over the previous years on my part, and that has given Johan a lot of confidence in my abilities. It is still too early to define my program for next year, but I will know more as we go through the training camps and we define the team goals.
Where do you base yourself for the European calendar?
I’ll continue to live where I’ve always been, in Portugal living with my parent’s
What is it like sitting on Cancellara’s wheel at full gas?
I have not had that opportunity yet
Johan continues to have an eye for great young talent, out of all the the new riders at RadioShack who impresses you the most?
Ben King. He has achieved great results already last season and is the current US Champion.
I know you will feel you have to answer Trek for this question, but when you sit on the start line and you look at all the team bikes, which one do you want to steel most (after Trek)?
After Trek, I would have to say the Pinarello. With the Pinarello FM1 I achieved the best result of my career, and was able to become the “Vice Champion” of the world for the Time Trial.
(Thanks to Dan Silva for the Portuguese translation)
A wonderful little film about the PUSH bike shop in Newington Green, London, run by Ciaran Carleton. His philosophy epitomizes the laid back and helpful attitude that should be found in every local bike shop.
Push from Saeed Taji Farouky on Vimeo.
CATEGORIES: Interviews,The Other Stuff
We are at nearly the one year point in the history of Elcyclista, and every week literally brings us in touch with new people who share our passion for riding and design. A few weeks back I was flicking through an issue of Cycle Sport (I still buy print) and came a cross a full page ad for Franco Bicycles. It looked like a nicely produced frame and prompted me to check out their site, to find they were doing something different and interesting. At the same time, Julian Franco was sending me an email to say he had found Elcyclista and loved what we were doing. Love it when that happens. We swapped emails and crafted a virtual interview, below.
How did you get into the sport?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been into bikes. I vividly remember my 9th birthday when my uncle, who was a big roadie at the time, showed up for my birthday party and had a dark blue Masi road bike that he had just picked up. I remember it had Campy on it and he trained on tubulars. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. That same birthday, another uncle gave me a Murray BMX. I got more and more into it, and I eventually wanted a higher-end BMX bike, but my parents wouldn’t buy me an expensive one. So I “de-tassled” corn (I grew up in the Midwest just outside Chicago) for the entire summer when I was 12 so I could order a new Robinson from Frankford BMX, a mail-order company advertising in the back pages of BMX Plus. I raced BMX for a while and eventually graduated to mountain bikes. Then in college I was racing a 250GP bike as part of the AMA Superbike Series and used a mountain bike to train on when a mechanic friend of mine, Mike Rockwell (another roadie) got me out on an old steel Bianchi to “chase some school buses” for fitness. From that moment on, I loved it and I’ve been on road bikes ever since.
Reading the background on you guys, it sounds like you have put together an interesting business model. How did the Franco brand get started?
My cousin, Hector, and I have both spent our entire careers in consumer goods. Hector on product development as an industrial designer and engineer, and me on the business side. Our experience there was really pretty simple. We would partner with retailers and base every decision on consumer insights, always focusing on the customer needs. That meant if we kept the focus on the customer, the business would take care of itself. Having bought a lot of bikes ourselves we didn’t think that was the case in the bike industry. We’d find what we thought was the perfect bike and then we’d have to try to find it, since our local dealers didn’t always have them in stock. One time in particular, when I was looking for a specific new bike in my size, that meant printing off a list of US dealers for that brand, and calling every dealer from the east coast to the west until I finally found it. I found it in Utah, and since I was on vacation with my wife, she didn’t appreciate my efforts that morning as much as I did! Experiences like this and our network of contacts allowed us to create a company that did exactly what we wanted when purchasing a bike. Franco Bicycles was born.
I met Richard Delaume through our shared admiration of Jacques Anquetil and the old Mirror Sprint cycling magazines. He is an amazing photographer. Some of you will know his work already if you read the pages of Procycling magazine. We got to talking, and he shared with me this great cyclo-cross photo essay that he shot in France. So we decided to do two things. First an interview that gives you a sense of Richard, and his love of our sport and photography, and second we made a feature of the essay so you could see all of his great images and dirt in their true splendor.
When did you first pick up a camera?
I started slowly in 2003, when I bought a compact digital camera using money borrowed from my father. I found it strange taking pictures at first. Back then I was a sports teacher and cyclist. Then in 2005 I bought an SLR, and it changed everything.
Can you remember what your first shot was?
My first shot was in a Mall in Nantes with my girlfriend at the time. I photographed the escalators from the side, a classical composition, but effective. I entered it for a “Young artist” contest, and it got selected for an exhibition.
What do you enjoy shooting now?
I still love to shoot cycling, and I am still a correspondent for Procycling in France. But since 2009 I started to also shoot social reportage as well. Travel also interests me. I have been to Burkina Faso and in April I’m going to Palestine. I have also begun work on a project based on autism.
How did you get into shooting cycling?
In 2005 I began to do editorial for magazines, then in early 2006 I saw the potential in shooting cycling. I know a lot of things about that world, seen from the inside as a rider.
A lot of the shots you took in the cyclo-cross essay are pre or post race – what were you trying to capture?
For this essay I wanted to capture the essence of this cycling discipline, and not just the race. Capturing something of the mental side of the sport, the attitude. But also the audience and the passion they have for it in Brittany and Belgium.
What rider have you enjoyed photographing most?
Erwan Mentheour in 2007 for Procycling, when they asked me shoot for the theme “10 years on”. Erwan retired after the Festina affair. He was one of the first riders convicted of EPO use in the 1997 Paris-Nice when he was riding for Francaise des Jeux. I spent a day with him in Paris and Beaubourg. We talked a lot, had a lot of laughs and drank a lot!
There are so many iconic images of our sport – do you have a favorite?
Anquetil and Poulidor climbing the Puy de Dome during the 1964 Tour. That image catches the climax of their rivalry and the drama of the sport. We rarely see that now.
If you had your choice to shoot a grand tour or one of the classics, what would it be?
No hesitation, the Tour. But I also loved going to the Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Whenever I started Elcyclista I never imagined it would be the catalyst to introduce me to so many great and passionate people. Every day seems to bring someone new. Yesterday brought Stefan Bumbeck, cyclist and artist (or is it artist and cyclist?). When I studied at art college in London I often found the best work came from people that had a deep emotional connection with their subject. I guess the same goes for most things in life, but no doubt cyclists are definitely a passionate lot. Looking at his work and listening to Stefan you literally feel the passion he has for riding, and all the things that go with it. There is an effortless style to his work that disguises the immense skill and talent that lies beneath it. In the same way a pro has that effortless pedal stroke that we all wish we had. It is beautiful, evocative work.
We got into a nice back and forth, or is that a “half-wheel”, where I am sure we “crossed wheels”. It turned into the following interview:
Tell me when you got into riding and how long ago?
I started racing in 1984, I was 15. My dad was a racing enthusiast and an art professor at Middlebury College. I had bought a Raleigh Super Corsa at a cool bike shop in Middlebury with the money I earned working at Middlebury College food service washing dishes and serving food. I entered a citizens race the next spring. I was hooked.
Great name – What is your background? Where are you from?
I grew up in Vermont. Bumbeck is a Russian name and my Mom is Italian. She was a Giobbe. As the story goes my parents were eating in a restaurant. My Mom was pregnant with me. She kept noticing two old guys sitting on opposite sides of the room glaring at each other. Suddenly one leapt up and yelled “Stefan”, the other yelled “Béla”! The two old men were long lost brothers, split up after World War II. So my name is Stefan Béla Bumbeck. I’ve asked my Mom if that story is true so many times. I’m still not convinced that it isn’t fabricated, but it’s a good one anyway.
What about your interest in painting? Did you study painting or is this something you got interested in?
As I mentioned my Dad is a now retired art professor and an amazing artist. Those are some big shoes to fill. I’ve always painted and drawn and ridden bikes for as long as I can remember. I studied studio art and psychology and raced my bike through college (UVM). It just sort of all flowed together when I was inspired by the gritty quality of an illustration by Jordin Isup on the cover of Colorado Cyclist catalog. It was a very different style than mine, but I found inspiration in the combination of paint and subject. It also had this great distressed black and white photographic characteristic to it. I love that. I love looking at old pictures of trains, cars, etc…
Why bikes as a muse? What made you start using them as a subject matter? Bike racing is the epitome of man and machine to me. It’s one of the most efficient machines we use. When we push it as far as we can it is a testament to our very existence. There are fantastic stories of suffering and triumph in cycling lore. Ottavio Bottecchia was my first favorite. Brick layer and martyr. My first series of Bike racing paintings focused on Bottecchia. He lost his life because he would not promote fascism. Gino Bartali used to ride Jews over the Alps to free them from Italian fascists, because he thought it was the right thing to do. Greg Lemond was riddled with bird shot and nearly died and then he won the closest Tour ever! Lance Armstrong beat cancer! There really aren’t any better stories for me. It’s a subject that inspires me and challenges me technically. It’s hard to draft people and almost as hard to draw bikes.
What do you think you can capture in a painting rather than a photograph?
That’s a tough one. I couldn’t really do what I do without photography. I wish I was a good enough photographer to capture the essence of cycling. Painting bike racers really is self-serving. I really enjoy it. The translation that occurs from eyes to brain to hand is so salient for me. It’s immediate gratification. It’s really deductive at first and then when I’m nose to the canvas or paper it becomes completely spontaneous and gestural. I drink a lot of coffee, too. My lines get a little scribbly.