Josh Callaly told me: I went over as a guest rider for Academia de Ciclismo Jopelor to race the final 2 rounds of the Portuguese Cup on the 3rd and 4th of June.
The first race was 99km with 2,000m of climbing. It started with 2 short laps through the town which included 2 cobbled sectors each lap. It was a very fast and hectic start. After this we went onto the main circuit of which we completed 2 laps which included a 5km climb at 6.5% average gradient. I was in the lead group of roughly 15 riders over the top of the climb the first time up it. On the descent it regrouped and the group was then made up of about 30 riders for the second ascent of the climb. I wasn’t able to follow the leading group over the top and I was in P13 over the top at about 30 seconds from the leaders. I was unable to get back to the front of the race and was caught by a group of about 15 riders. I felt that I just didn’t have any power on the climb and my legs were tired. I finished at the back of my group in 30th place.
The 2nd race was the day later on the Sunday and it was 94km with 1,500m of climbing and started with a fast downhill before hitting a small climb. The race flew up this climb and I was right at the pointy end over the top. After this only about 50 riders remained of the 100+ starters. The race flew down the descent and the race was strung out at the front. The race regrouped and the pace slowed. 4 riders attacked and pulled out a nice advantage as the bunch didn’t react. I attacked coming into a cobbled village and 2 other riders followed. I drove hard and the other 2 with me didn’t give me much help. When we hit the next climb I drove very hard to make it over to the front of the race. I got no help on the climb from the other riders, but still managed to make it to the 4 riders ahead. Once I caught the leaders I pushed on to grow our advantage as the main bunch wasn’t in sight. I pushed hard over the top and down the descent. Our gap was nearly 2 minutes as we hit the bottom of the final 10km climb. We rode a strong pace up this long climb, but I felt like I had more. I could see that the other riders were struggling and was then told that my teammate Joseph Mullen had attacked and was on his way across with a few other riders. His small group caught us over the top of the climb and the group was now made up of 11 riders as we began the descent with 20km to go. A rider attacked on the descent and pulled out a gap of 15 seconds as we approached the final 10km. The group worked well and the gap held at about 10 seconds as we entered the final kilometres. With 1km remaining I still felt strong and I hit the front just before the final corner. I attacked hard out of the corner and pulled out a gap as the road began to rise. The final 800m were at over 10% and I was constantly pulled out more and more meters. I caught the rider who was ahead and kicked hard past him the final 200m were cobbled and as I entered the cobbles my gap was still growing. At the line I was 6 seconds ahead of 2nd place and more to the rest of the riders. Kind regards Josh

Joseph Mullen told me today: “Finished the exams on Thursday at lunchtime and straight to the airport. Excited to be returning to Portugal a little hotter this time round. Back this time to compete again with Academia Ciclisimo Jopelor. We were competing in the 3rd and 4th round of the Portuguese Cup. A tough 2 days competing with over 22 international teams with over 120 riders. Josh joined me this time and it was great to have another Navan Road Club man with me.
The 3rd round of Saturday was a tough 98km race with just under 2000m of climbing which suited me. We were in Minho in the Northern part of Portugal
I had a minor mechanical withing the first 10km of the race but stayed calm and eventually got back into the bunch. I was feeling good the second time up the climb and decided to attack to try string out the bunch further. I found myself with a comfortable gap over the chasers over the top of the climb but unfortunately was brought back by a well organised chase group. In the break of about 10 guys, Josh just missing out which would have been ideal to have a teammate to work with. Coming into the finish I felt okay but just didn’t have the punch at the end to take the win.
Moving onto Sunday with another hard day on the cards 94km with 1500m of climbing.
Legs weren’t as fresh l after Saturday but managed to bridge across to Josh on the climb who was in the break. A big mistake I made was not eating and drinking enough especially with the climbs and heat. The last few km I gave it a go but was closed straight away. In Portugal they like to hold the finish on a steep climb and cobbles which is interesting. Josh gave it a dig coming into the last corner and got a quick gap and held it to the line. 6th on the day and 2nd first year junior considering only completing 3 out of the 4 rounds. Nice to see Josh getting the win. We also won the team prize competing against over 20 international teams which was a huge deal for Joa our manager and the rest of the team.
Again, we were both part of an amazing team. A 7-hour trip back to Tavira where our sponsors for Acaedmia Cicllisimo Jopelar met us for a celebration. A huge deal for our team, and it was well worth the effort to get the win. We also realised that the Portuguese come alive at night. Thanks To Andy Layne, Navan Road club and Bective Stud Apartments and all the cycling community here at home for the continued support.
What an experience, onwards and upwards, getting stronger. Team work works” Until next tim
e, Joseph

Info of the team can be found here: