(Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Ilana Barbu, 29, and Thomas Alexander Lucena, 33, will start Wednesday’s Tour of Brazil as yellow jersey riders. They are among several cyclists who are generating controversy in Brazil.
Lucena has struggled in Brazil’s top sports. He tried and failed to become the first Brazilian to compete for a professional cycling victory when he finished second at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Then, a few months later, a video was leaked of him celebrating on the stage that included the notorious mountain village of Natal, where local and foreign fans set up shrines to fallen participants of the Olympics.
Famous as “Hurricane” or “Cane Cyclone,” Natal became a place where “where blood is spilled,” according to the (Porto Alegre, Brazil) newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo.
Barbu rides for the Movistar team in the general classification. She came in at 12th place after a stage win on Sunday and is currently in ninth place overall.
“It was a fantastic day at the end but we were all nervous about our position at the end of the day,” said the 29-year-old Barbu. “I’m happy to ride to win for the party, while also thinking of the 12 million people in Brazil who have seen me do good things.”
Lucena is 22th in the general classification, six seconds behind race leader Thibaut Pinot of France.
Both Lucena and Barbu claimed their success does not come with anyone’s permission.
“To do well here without any pressure is fantastic for me,” said Barbu. “You can’t force anybody to do good things, especially not my boyfriend. I do what I want, and if he doesn’t approve of it, well, I’ll do it.”