Joaquim Agostinho was the greatest Portuguese cyclist of all time. Although he had the physique of sprinter, he could not sprint, but instead excelled at climbing. He turned pro at the age of 26. He was Portuguese National Champion 6 consecutive times, and rode the Tour de France 13 times, finishing 12 - 8 of those in the top 10. Agostinho won 5 Tour de France stage victories. His best in the Tour finishing third in 1978 and 1979, also winning the stage to Alpe d’Huez in 1979 at the age of 37.
While leading the 1984 Tour of Algarve, 200m before the finish line a dog strayed on to the course. Agostinho could not avoid it and crashed. He was dazed and seemed otherwise unhurt, later and x-ray revealed that he had fractured his skull. He was kept in hospital, where a few days later he fell into a coma and died.
“He was a man of strange contradictions. Built like a sprinter, he was no good at sprinting. He was one of the great climbers. Eddy Merckx said in 1969, the year when he and Agostinho made their debuts in the Tour de France, that Agostinho was the rival who worried him most, indeed the only rival who had worried him at all.”
“Joaquim Agostinho didn’t know his own strength. He was a ball of muscles of out-of-the-ordinary power. He was built like a cast-iron founder.”
“It was his captain during the war in Mozambique who discovered him. When he carried messages on a heavy bike, he took two hours to ride 50km when the others took five.”
"Jean-Pierre Doucot. Personal mechanic.