Title: “Almeida, a rose with style”. Lead: “Ulissi’s victory by half a wheel against the Portuguese, who decides to celebrate the tenth day in the leadership trying to win by sprint“. The Portuguese press has given special emphasis to the performance of João Almeida no Giro, from the story told by friends and family (who are in Italy, where in the first stage they saw in Cesenatico they only regretted not being able to hug their son in the end) to the projection of the which could be in the medium term in cycling. However, international media are also increasingly rendered to the provision of Portuguese, this time with El País praising the young runner, the unexpected hero “who does not know if he is committed to winning or making a mark with his personality”.
The dream is more and more real: João Almeida finishes second, makes fourth podium in stages and reinforces Giro’s leadership before the time trial
“João Almeida does not think about the next day, when he can increase the leadership even more. Think about now. Follow your inspiration and don’t drown your desire in fear, as the old cycling masters advise. Instead of breathing slowly and following the wheel, he prefers to be the protagonist. Try to win the stage and color the race even more with your energy. Your team pulls hard and the sprinters do not arrive. He doesn’t win but finish second. Six seconds of bonus and a name, yours, which day after day the fans pronounce with more respect ”, highlighted the Spanish publication after the fourth podium in 2020 from the Deceuninck Quick-Step corridor.
This is in fact the great mark of João Almeida, an unusual leader in the Giro. That was also a phrase that was among the always enthusiastic comments of Eurosport, which on arrival at Monselice this Friday went red with the possibility of being the Portuguese to win the stage: how many times you see a pink jersey, almost at the end of the second week of the Tour of Italy, trying to get a victory in a stage where he should be defending himself against attacks on the small climbs of the last kilometers? Few or none. Also here, the A-dos-Francos corridor makes the difference. And what seemed (and still seems today) a dream, the chance of reaching the third week to fight for the final victory, slowly begins to become a little more real.
I keep the pink shirt every day and maybe they start thinking that I can keep it until the end. Maybe not … Tomorrow will be the 11th day with this shirt, it will be very special to start with the rose. I can’t wait to start, even more so in the last position, so it will be interesting and I’m excited. The last week will be very complicated, ”he said after Friday’s stage.
This was the time trial this Saturday, which brought Conegliano and Valdobbiadene together over a distance of 34 kilometers, something that João Almeida had also never experienced during his debut season on the World Tour and in big laps of three weeks. “I’ve never done a time trial so long, so it will be new to me. If it’s a good day, maybe stay and even increase. If I have a bad day I will certainly waste time for the other candidates. We will see how the legs are but we will give everything we have ”, admitted. Between this 14th stage and the climb to Piancavallo on Sunday, much would be decided in this Giro and with attention focused on Portuguese.
And the beginning couldn’t be better, with just seven more seconds in the first intermediate point after the climb in relation to Filippo Ganna where he passed in fourth and buying time for all the main opponents in general, between Kelderman, Pello Bilbao, Fuglsan, Nibali or Pozzovivo. There was even a curious episode, with a spectator trying to take a photo on a curve on the way up and the Portuguese man cutting at a distance, focused on the path and with his eyes focused on the final stage of that part of the route, being very applauded by many spectators and seeing right at start a Portuguese flag on the road (which has since become a rule). Few doubts already existed that the rose would continue with the Portuguese, and so it was: João Almeida had another class demonstration in another victory by Filippo Ganna, the third in this Giro and the second in so many other timepieces.
João Almeida finished in sixth position (44.41), now 56 seconds ahead of Wilco Kelderman, the runner-up. But the 12th day with the sweatshirt had another very important point for this Sunday’s mountain stage: with the exception of the Dutch, all pursuers now have a disadvantage of more than two minutes, which allows another type of management for the Portuguese on the way up to Piancavallo. Ganna won with a time of 42.40 (and Ineos even without Geraint Thomas there, he goes on his way of redemption), followed by teammate Rohan Dennis (43.06) and Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates, 43.49). Overall, Kelderman maintained second place now at 56 seconds, Pello Bilbao also remains third but at 2.11 and McNulty moved up to fourth at 2.23. Nibali is in fifth at 2.30, Pozzovivo went down to seventh at 2.33 and Jakob Fugslang now occupies 12th place with more than four minutes to the lead.