Evandro Portela, the Brazilian cyclist who shot to fame internationally back in 2014 with a video of him drafting a lorry on a public highway at 124 kilometres an hour, has his sights set on topping 300 kilometres an hour next year to become the world’s fastest cyclist – and in this exclusive interview, he talks about his plans to road.cc. We’ll also be bringing you the tech specs of the bike he aims to do it on in the coming days, so look out for that.
The record for the motor-paced world record currently stands at 296 kilometres an hour and was set by Denise Mueller-Korenek of the United States in September 2018 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Already the holder of the women’s bicycle land speed record, she took the outright title that had been held by more than two decades by Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands, who had reached almost 269 kilometres an hour in 1995, also at Bonneville.
While the Utah location is a world-famous venue for land speed record attempts whether human powered or otherwise – Sir Malcolm Campbell was the first to set one here, driving the world-famous Blue Bird to a speed of 484.6 kilometres an hour in 1935 – Portela is heading to the planet’s largest salt flats, covering 10,000 square kilometres, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
The 44-year-old former professional cyclist, who hit 156 kilometres an hour on a recent training ride as shown in the video above, told us that “If all goes well, there will be two tests before the final challenge” when he makes his attempt on the record next year.
His love of riding a bike at speed started the moment he began cycling at the age of 13, and got a bit more “crazy” as he puts it once he started drafting trucks.
In 2016, drafting a Subaru WRX 4X4 350 HP Turbo car between his home town of Curitiba and São José dos Pinhais, he hit a speed of 202 kilometres an hour to break his own Guinness World Record as the fastest draft-assisted cyclist on a public road.
“When I was at 190 kilometres an hour, I couldn’t see anything, the rear wheel was already in the air, but I managed to control the bike and keep pedalling,” he said at the time.
He told us that in that effort, he ran a 105T front gear – “a bicycle with a big gear runs more truly, that’s for sure,” he said – and on special Continental tyres, with the local highways authority closing the road for half an hour while he undertook his ride.
His attempt on the outright motor-paced record next year, in which he will be paced by a 6.4-litre Chrysler 300C RST8 supercharged to 750 horsepower, will be monitored by world motorsport’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile and the Automovil Club Boliviano.
Portela is still racking up between 700 and 800 kilometres on the road each week ahead of next year’s record attempt and – these things not coming cheap – is looking for sponsorship; if you are a commercial concern and genuinely interested in backing him, drop us a line at info [at] road.cc (subject: Evandro%20Portela) and we will put you in touch.
And as for that video that first brought him to international attention seven years ago?
Well, forgive us for blowing our own trumpet, but it was road.cc that broke the story after stumbling across the footage on social media on what had, until then, been a quiet weekend. The site went nuts.
And Portela appreciates that – “I’m very glad,” he said … “I’m from a country that talks about football.”
If he tops 300 kilometres an hour next year, they’ll be talking about cycling in Brazil too, we’re sure.
You do want to watch that first video again, don’t you? It’s the all-time favourite of several of the road.cc team.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.