Joao Almeida at the Giro d´Italia 2020.
Author: SITA / AP, Fabio Ferrari
Originally, it was supposed to be just a backup plan in case it didn’t work out with Remc Evenepoel as the leader of the Deceuninck – Quick Step team.
“Driving for fourteen days is a new experience and it will take me another week. So far, it has been the most at the Baby Giro (race under 23 years – note) in ten days, “remarked Joao Almeida, a somewhat leader of the Giro d’Italia.
Saturday’s time trial from Conegliano to Valdobbiaden (34.1 km) was managed by the 22-year-old debutant as the sixth best and he increased the lead over the Dutchman Wilc Kelderman (Sunweb) from 40 to 56 seconds. The third Spaniard Pello Bilbao (Bahrain – McLaren) is already lagging behind more significantly – 2:11 min. And before the time trial with one short but almost 12 percent climb, Almeida expressed concern that he had not yet completed such a long ride against the chronometer in a competitive career.
“I had a plan that I fulfilled. In the ascents, I pushed for it more, because there is the easiest thing to get compared to the opponents. Later, I rested a bit in the downhill runs. In the middle part of the track I struggled with it a bit, but I kept enough strength for a stronger end. It was a bit of an experiment, because I’ve never ridden such a long time before and I lacked experience, “said Almeida, quoting the specialized portal cyclingnews.com.
After the resignation of the British Geraint Thomas, Simon Yates or the Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk, the biggest favorites for the legendary pink jersey were supposed to be the home matador Vincenzo NIbali or the Danish universal Jakob Fuglsang. However, the facts are that after the 14th stage Nibali lags behind the Almeid in the fifth place 2:30 min and Fuglsang in the 12th place even 4:08 min. But appearances can be deceiving. However, the third year of Gira is far from decided.
As for Almeid, he has not won a single stage yet. However, he never missed the front in important moments. He finished second and sixth in the time trials, in the 3rd stage on the way to Etna he was only a little behind the best climbers and since then he has been in the leader’s pink jersey. He also scored two third places and one second.
On Friday in Monselica, in the stage with a classic conclusion, Diego Ulissi blew his victory by a few centimeters. “I have gained more on my opponents so far than I expected. This is especially true of Kelderman and Nibali, which is very positive. I’m a little tired, but that’s probably all of us. It’s my first Grand Tour and I study every day. I can’t guess how I will react in the last week. I will fight, “Almeida added.
The last week offers up to four extremely challenging mountain stages with reaches to Italian ski resorts. Already on Sunday the peloton will ascend to Piancavallo (1288 m), on Tuesday the stage will culminate in Madonne di Campiglio (1514 m), on Wednesday in Laghi di Cancano (1935 m), but before that the cyclists take the trip to the highest point of the Passo di Stelvio at an altitude of 2746 m.
Finally, the penultimate 20th stage will culminate on Saturday in Sestriere (2039 m) and on the way to this world-famous ski resort, cyclists will also stand in the path of Colle dell’Agnello (2733 m). Just “surviving” these stages will be a great test of endurance also for Petr Sagan, who still holds the 2nd place in the competition for a cyclamen jersey intended for the winner of the scoring competition. It is 37 points behind the French leader Arnaud Démar.
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