Andrey Amador Bikkazakova is the first Costa Rican to compete in the Tour de France as a professional road bicycle racer. Andrey rode with Movistar Team for much of his career before joining UCI WorldTeam Ineos Grenadiers for the 2020 season.
Andrey started cycling at a very young age before progressing to the professional circuit in 2006. He was still very young at the time, just 20 years old, but he soon found himself competing with the very best the sport has to offer.
His mother Raisa Bikkazakova is a Russian immigrant who came to Costa Rica after meeting and marrying Andrey’s father. The couple were initially bemused by Andrey’s obsession with cycling, but quickly became supporters after witnessing his early results in amateur races.
Whilst Costa Rica has had a handful of sporting successes over the years, they have never had a top-tier professional cyclist like Andrey Amador before now. In fact, Andrey is only the second ever professional cyclist to emerge from Costa Rica and was the first athlete from the country to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia way back in 2012.
When Andrey rode the Tour de France for the first time in 2011 he quickly became a superstar back home in Costa Rica, despite finishing second last with a time of three hours and 54 minutes. It was clearly a tough battle for Andrey, but the fact he was there at all – and his determination to keep going and cross the finish line – meant everything to sports fans in Costa Rica. After the race, Andrey spoke to journalist Steeven Mora telling him “I hope Costa Rica understands the importance of this, the best moment in our cycling history”.
After the 2011 Tour, Andrey was preparing for the next Giro d’Italia when a shocking incident led him to take a step back and re-evaluate what was important to him. He was out training in his home country of Costa Rica when he suffered an attack by a group of bandits, an incident that he describes as “the most frightening moment of my life”.
Andrey was 24 at the time and in the middle of his final training ride of the year when two cars made a wedge around him, before the occupants got out of the cars and assaulted him. Andrey’s Pinarello team bike was stolen – a ridiculous theft, as such an item could never be sold inconspicuously – and had a gun put to his head before being heavily beaten and left for dead in a river bed.
Thankfully, Andrey was found and taken to hospital in the Cosa Rican capital of San Jose. He had suffered severe injuries to his kidneys and lungs, and spent several weeks recovering in the hospital. “I think that what was perhaps even more frightening than the incident was receiving the diagnosis and being told that it could be something serious and result in complications” said Andrey, when asked about the incident.
Striving for Greatness
Andrey found new motivation as a result of the dreadful attack. He channeled every bit of will, dedication and strength that he could find into his cycling career, and soon started to see results. A series of fantastic results in the Giro d’Italia saw him become a favorite with bookmakers such as Unibet Indiana with placements of 29th, 4th and 8th in the years 2012, 2015 and 2016.
High place finishes in the Vuelta a Espana soon followed, including a 1st place finish of Stage 1 in 2014. The UCI Road World Championships were another highlight, when Andrey and his team finished 3rd place in the Team Time Trials. T
he cyclist rode with the Movistar team for much of his career. He currently rides with Team Ineos after a contract dispute that was only resolved days before he was due to race in the UAE Tour in February 2020. He has continued to make Costa Rica proud in recent years with top-half finishes in the last four Tour de France races and a 39th place finish in 2019’s Giro d’Italia.