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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: Davide Formolo comes up short as João Almeida stays under the radar

UAE Team Emirates is one of the few teams to bring both a sprinter and a GC candidate.

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POTENZA, Italy (VN) — Davide Formolo hogged the spotlight Friday in an all-day breakaway, but it’s his UAE Emirates teammate João Almeida who’s been sneakily avoiding it so far in the 2022 Giro d’Italia.

Formolo banged his head against the breakaway wall for nearly an hour Friday before he stubbornly broke through. The Italian hit out with a group full of Dutch riders, and after some late solo flares flamed out, kicked to third on the stage.

“Today was a day for the breakaway and we decided I would try,” Formolo said. “In the final, I tried to get away on the climb, I tried again on the descent but it just wasn’t to be. Jumbo had two strong guys there and it made it hard to get away solo.”

Formolo’s stage podium is the third top-3 so far in this Giro for UAE Team Emirates. Sprinter Fernando Gaviria kicked to second and third so far in the bunch sprints, and the team will rally around him in Saturday’s tricky circuit course in Naples.

“It’s always nice to get the win of course, but I can say I tried my best,” Formolo said. “We take this result and go for it again tomorrow with Gaviria, but tomorrow I’ll probably stay in the bunch after a long day today.”

UAE is one of the few teams that’s brought both a sprinter and a GC captain to the Giro.

Focus will turn to Almeida for Sunday’s Blockhaus stage

So far, Almeida is happy to lurk in the background.

The young Portuguese star exploded into the spotlight in the 2020 Giro when he held pink for nearly two weeks to finish fourth. Last year, he struggled early in the Giro, but dug deep to finish sixth in what was a much more competitive edition of the race.

After switching to UAE this season, Almeida is riding into this Giro as a would-be challenger for the podium.

While all eyes are on Richard Carapaz, Simon Yates, and Romain Bardet, Almeida is lurking within striking range.

He’s seventh overall at 1:58 back, but is ahead of challengers Carapaz and Bardet.

“The goal is the GC in this Giro, but we also know the Giro is very long,” Almeida told VeloNews this week. “I learned a lot from my first two times racing the Giro, and I come into the race feeling good. The final week should put everyone in their place.”

Formolo said he wanted to take advantage of his chance in the Italian sun Friday because he will revert to helper duty this weekend for the stage to Blockhaus.

“We are here to help João and Sunday is a big stage,” Formolo said. “Everyone will be working to help him stay with the best riders at the front of the race.”

So far, Almeida is content to stay just beyond the spotlight. That could change very soon.