The Miranda Factory Team debuted this past weekend in a commanding way in the season opener with a podium win by Gonçalo Bandeira. Bandeira, now racing at the junior level, won the first round of the Portuguese Downhill Cup in São Brás de Alportel (Algarve).
The Miranda Factory Team launches its 2019 campaign with added motivation this year. It is the first downhill team in Portugal to be accredited by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). The team will have its hands full with many goals to achieve and more than a few dreams to realize – not only at the national level, but especially at the international level, with all three of its athletes competing in the most important global events of the downhill race calendar.
The same three racers from last year’s team have returned to don the colors of the Miranda Factory Team. They are three athletes with remarkable race resumes that showed us what they could do last season by reaching the podium’s top spot. This year Lusitanian Gonçalo Bandeira has ascended from the cadet to the junior category, while Tiago Ladeira, native of Viseu, steps up to the elite category, in which their teammate from Luso (Mealhada), Vasco Bica, has been racing.
For all three, 2019 represents a year of challenges on various levels, where victories are in their crosshairs with an aim to elevate the team's name in all four corners of the world. Everything has been thought out with this ambition in mind: from a change in coaches to switching bike brands, through to the equipment and the entire program structure, which now includes a mobile workshop and vehicles.
Who is part of the technical team?
Tiago Caetano is the new coach for the Miranda Factory Team; he brings a cumulative wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. André Caetano, director sportif, is in complete charge of the team’s participation in all national and international competitions.
Hélder Padilha will be the team’s main mechanic and will ensure that the bikes are always in perfect condition for racing. João Martins is still responsible for capturing and distributing audiovisual collateral that’s exclusive to the Miranda Factory Team.
The bikes this year are from Mondraker and will feature Miranda Bike Parts’ first-of-its-kind XMOD® modular mountain bike cranks that are specific to downhill. As for the competition clothing, it also underwent an update but red is still the iconic color of the team.
Miranda Bike Parts at the cutting edge of technology
It was Miranda Bike Parts that created the team in 2018. The company is a global leader in the international market for bicycle drivetrain components.
Downhill racing is considered by many to be the "Formula 1 of bike racing" because the components are subject to the most adverse conditions. When components like XMOD can withstand the abuse that downhill racing piles on them, they are truly fit for anything and any other racing discipline. This represents, in essence, the real challenge for Miranda Bike Parts and for its CMO, João Filipe Miranda, who’s also deputy technical director for the Miranda Factory Team.
"There are very few brands that have ‘downhill-specific’ products, given the difficulty of producing lightweight but sturdy components. That's why Miranda Bike Parts continues to support downhill racing and develop innovative products. This is how we advertise our superior technological capacity, since many of the technologies used in our downhill products are internationally patented, "said João Filipe Miranda.
On the other hand, it is part of the strategic vision of the company from Águeda "to have a UCI MTB team because it translates to having an international stage on which to showcase Miranda Bike Parts’ technological prowess, and to demonstrate what’s being done best in current components," said the brand's CMO.
It should be noted that Miranda Bike Parts is the manufacturer and supplier for the world’s leading bicycle brands. All products represent customized solutions with respect to quality, durability and design standards, some of which have won awards. Miranda has also dedicated itself to the development of high-end bicycle parts, predominantly for e-bikes (electric bicycles).
Three athletes competing in international competitions
2019 will be a different era for the team that now counts two elites and one junior racer. Racing on the international stage will get considerable harder, given the depth of talent from around the world. The three Miranda racers belong there too and are fit to compete in the world races.
"The moment I’ve waited so long for has finally come – to be able to enter the World Cup series," said a beaming Gonçalo Bandeira. "Last year was fantastic and I have to thank Miranda Bike Parts for all the support I received. It was undoubtedly a great ‘component’ in my individual successes. But this season – as anticipated – will be a challenge at all levels in the world cup races." explained the athlete who’s now a junior racer. "I am fully aware that it will be difficult because many good athletes will also ascend to the junior category, making the races very competitive. I'll do my best and, with the world watching, I hope I won’t disappoint.
Tiago Ladeira also shares some of these feelings, as 2019 will be his first year as an elite racer. "I am very motivated and anxious with the new season! But first of all I have to thank Miranda Bike Parts for the trust and support they’ve provided us. Check out our new team structure!" he said.
The current European Champion doesn’t hide that – at the top of his list of goals – is the conquest of some podiums in Portugal and qualifying in the World Cup races. For the rest, "I just hope to have fun and enjoy racing as much as I can in the new season.”
Already Vasco Bica, the most experienced of the three, has also clearly carved out his goals throughout several competitions during the new season. These include: entering the UCI Top 30 of the best in the world; defending his European Championship title; becoming the Portuguese national champion once more; and winning the Portuguese Cup series are those that he considers to be priorities. But don’t forget the most important of them: "I hope that, above all, I have a healthy season, injury-free and marked by good physical performance," he said.
If you recall, Bica suffered a "tide of misfortune" in 2018, which was marred by crashes and injuries that drastically compromised his elite season. To this day he has won the Portuguese National Downhill Championship title three times and has scored two Portuguese Cups.
São Brás de Alportel has launched the season
This past weekend was marked by victory in the junior category by Gonçalo Bandeira in the first round of the Portugal Downhill Cup in São Brás de Alportel. José Borges was second in the elites, followed by Vasco Bica in fifth place, and Tiago Ladeira in eighth. As a result, the Miranda Factory Team won the team ranking and has taken first place in the standings.
"It's good to start the season with a victory," said Gonçalo Bandeira, for whom "the level of competition was high and the descent wasn’t the easiest run for me, but I still gave it my best and managed to claim my first victory as a junior." The athlete also emphasized that the team "did a good job, which helped us reach the top spot in the teams classification. This is the path we want to be on!"
Vasco Bica stressed "It was good to return to competition and with a good start to the season, both personally and for the team. I didn’t reach my goal, which was to win, but I feel like I’m still adapting to this new bike and that from here on I will always be improving."
For Tiago Ladeira’s part, he was very happy "to score eighth place in São Brás de Alportel.” In his debut as an elite racer, the athlete said that, "to start this way gives me a lot of confidence. I can only thank Miranda Bike Parts for all the support it gives us."
The Portugal Downhill Cup continues on March 17, with the second event to be held in Porto de Mós
March 16-17: Round 2 of the Portugal Downhill Cup - Porto de Mós
March 23-24: Round 3 of the Portugal Downhill Cup - Lousã
April 13-14: Round 4 of the Portugal Downhill Cup - Boticas
May 2-5: European Downhill Championship - Pampilhosa da Serra / Schist Villages
June 15-16: Round 5 of the Portugal Downhill Cup - Ribeira de Pena
July 20-21: Portuguese National Downhill Championship / 120 years UVP-FPC (Águeda)
World Cup Series
April 27-28: Maribor, Slovenia
June 1-2: Fort William, Scotland
June 8-9: Leogang, Austria
July 6-7: Vallnord, Andorra
July 13-14: Les Gets, France
August 3-4: Val di Sole, Italy
August 10-11: Lenzerheide, Switzerland
September 7-8: Snowshoe, United States
August 28 – September 1: Mont-Sainte Anne, Canada
iXS European Downhill Cup
April 19-20: Maribor, Slovenia
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