“I’m hungry,” he said while eating at a press conference to recover from a day of extreme hardship. A day that Joao Almeida (24 years old) will never forget. In the 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia, the one from Caldas da Rainha gave Portugal its seventh victory in history of the Corsa Pink, the first of his record in a grand tour. The UAE Team Emirates rider also did it in a big way, with a tremendous heads up against a Geraint Thomas the one who beat the sprint to move up to second place overall. He is now 18 seconds behind the Welshman and leads Roglic (3rd) by 11 ″.
“It is a special victory, a dream come true. I felt good and the team’s work was extraordinary. I worked together with Thomas to put seconds between us and Roglic, but after that my main goal was the stage win.” explained Almeida at the end of the stage, who also emphasized what this success means for his morale: “It’s very important, I was close to winning many times, but winning now It is a step forward in my career and also for my confidence, although I am still the same cyclist anyway”.
Joao has made history for his country, being the third Portuguese to raise his arms in the Giro after Acácio da Silva (1985, 1986 and 1989) and Ruben Guerreiro (2020), but still wants more: “I think I can win the Giro, but against Roglic and Thomas it’s going to be a big challenge. Of course I believe it, but it’s not going to be easy. I will give my best and whatever the result, I will be happy”. There are three days left in the mountains and the final time trial to definitively decide an Italian round with no differences in its first two weeks, as the Portuguese explains: “It’s been a very tough race, especially due to the weather, but my numbers are really good. It is being a very special Giro, these two weeks there were many sick people. The first two weeks there were no chances to make a difference. Now we have a chance to do something.” Joao has fueled the Giro. It was needed.