Maybe you heard the news about the Cervelo Test team’s newest member—Joao Correia. If you didn’t, here’s a great story in the NYT Incredible guy, great father, successful businessman and now a first-year rider on the world’s 7th ranked ProTour team at the ripe old age of 34.
After getting the news, I kept thinking of a great story about Joao that I wanted to tell.
So, back in the fall of 2004 this guy starts working for Bicycling Magazine where I had been an editor for a bunch of years. The guy starts working on the ad sales side of the magazine which was like kryptonite to us. His first day was literally at the Interbike tradeshow in Las Vegas. The first thing I hear about his is that he was pro rider at some point. “Pro what” I asked. “Pro bull rider?” The dude weighed over 200 pounds and, for all the world didn’t look like he’d ever touched a bike let alone been a pro. Of course it was Joao.
We go on to work together for a few years and I hear rumblings that the guy’s been riding. He’s still a pretty robust guy, but he’s getting a little toned up. There’s also a lot of smack talking going on with the always-competitive ad sales team that JC was leading. Smack talking that came to a head around the time Bicycling was hosting an industry ride on the weekend of the San Francisco Grand Prix. The ride was a three-ish hour road loop around Tam. The way the loop worked was we’d ride relatively flat for about ten miles, then the climbing would start. Initially we’d do a couple 1000-foot-ish climbs with a bunch of rollers that culminated in a roughly 1000-foot push called ‘Seven Bitches’ up to the high point on Tam.
So the ad guys are talking smack with each other as we roll over the first few climbs, and somehow, JC and his 200lbs are hanging tight. Still, the way some of Joao’s ad guys see it, they’re going to have a chance to put it to the boss as we head up Tam! We go up the ‘Seven Bitches’ and I’m just assuming that Joao’s going to get dropped by the team. As we hit the Seventh and final bitch, I turn around and who is right behind me--and in front of everyone else--of course its Joao.
Looking back, it was a real turning point. We all realized that the guy’s engine was much, much larger than anyone on the ride. If had a chassis that was 25 or 30-pounds less, he’d be way, way, way off the front.
Eventually Joao would start working with Max Testa, get down to about 150-pounds and, to everyone's astonishment, would land a spot on the Bissell squad.
Just as the fall started turning to winter a few months ago I was in New York and JC wanted to grab coffee. It seemed a little strange when he rolled up on a yellow decaled Cervelo instead of his Bissell team Pinarello. It seemed even more strange when he said he thought he had a spot on the Test Team. I mean, this is a guy that was well over 200lbs not all that long ago and, by his own admission, thought of eating as a sport. He made his way onto the world’s leading Pro Tour teams. The story is incredible and JC is proof that you can chase your dreams.
Keep up with Joao this year as he goes after it. His first race is the Etoile de Besseges early next month and, with any luck, he’ll get a spot on the Tour of California team. Whatever you do, don’t under estimate the guy!