Rui Costa will focus on Grand Tour victories next year after losing his World Championships road race title to Michal Kwiatkowski.
Costa had a brilliant season in 2013 and deserved to win the gold medal in the road race but this year he hasn't really ridden as well as many expected.
When riders wear the rainbow bands there is a lot of pressure because they are expected to do well in every race because they are the World Champion but unfortunately for Costa this year hasn't been much of a success.
Lack of wins
The Portuguese rider has only won one race in 2014 and that was the Tour de Suisse. He rode well in Paris-Nice but could only manage second place and in the Volta ao Algarve he finished in third. The race was won by Kwiatkowski.
More disappointing though for Costa was that he had to abandon the Tour of France this year which was a shame considering he did so well in the race last year. The 27 year old won two stages and finished 27th in the overall standings.
Costa retired on stage 15 due to pneumonia and began to target the World Championships as his next victory but he finished way down in 23rd place.
The Lampre-Merida rider is more than good enough for a podium finish in one of the Grand Tours and if he can regain the form he had in 2013 he has more than a chance of winning. Costa is an excellent climber and an all round good cyclist.
If Costa is to challenge in the major races though he will need a good team around him and that is something Lampre-Merida needs to address before the big races next year. Costa can't win a three week race on his own.
Copeland looking to build strong team
Lampre-Merida's team manager, Brent Copeland, believes Costa has what it takes to make it as a Grand Tour contender but admits they need to build a strong team around him.
Copeland said, according to Cycling Weekly: “He’s a rider for the Tour that you can work around.”
“He doesn’t need to improve that much, but we need to improve our team around him. We have better idea of what his needs are for the next Grand Tour that we do with him as a captain.
"Next year, will bring on board men who can sit in the wind for him. You have to start looking a year before to build towards a Tour top three. It’s a long process.”
I think Costa can make it as a top three rider but I'm not sure he is good enough to win a Grand Tour because there are quite a few riders who are better than him at the moment.
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