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Almeida said at the summit he expected more despite fending off a fierce pace from rival Ineos Grenadiers and attacks from a beehive of GC rivals.
“I am not really happy. I wasn’t feeling good all day,” Almeida said. “I don’t know how I arrived with the front guys. I guess I saved it a little today. I was just suffering today.”
Ineos Grenadiers turned up the pressure on the middle part of the climb, with Ben Tulett and Pavel Sivakov both taking long pulls that stretched out the bunch.
Almeida had teammate Davide Formolo with him in the front group, but the Italian eased back to help pace the Portuguese star when he lost the wheel.
Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa, and Romain Bardet detached themselves from the GC group with just under 4km to go, and the trio seemed destined to contest for the stage win.
Almeida dug deep to find company with Jai Hindley and Domenico Pozzovivo, and eventually regrouped coming into the less steep upper reaches of the climb.
Almeida roared to the line to stay even with the top GC rivals.
Despite his gritty comeback, Almeida said he was digging deep to limit his losses.
“I didn’t have the legs today. I was just suffering to not lose much time, and I did it, so I am happy in the end,” Almeida said. “Ineos set a high pace in the beginning and I was suffering. It was a good stage in the end.”
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If this is Almeida’s “bad” day, he’ll be happy. He was fifth at the line, and climbed from eighth into second overall at 12 seconds back.
Despite his struggles, he still had the legs to stay with the leaders to finish fifth on the stage on the same time as Hindley and Co.
“The GC is still on the table. I am happy I could finish with them,” he said.
He was poised to vault into the pink jersey, but overnight leader Juanpe López (Trek-Segafredo) dug deep to retain the jersey.
Almeida is now in pole position for pink going into the second week of the Giro. Almeida, who was fourth in his Giro debut in 2020 and sixth overall, told VeloNews on Saturday the podium would “be like a win.”
Some 24 hours later, he kept those podium ambitions alive.
“Everyone can have the bad days, and I had not such good legs today,” he said. “I think it’s a long race into the end, and everyone is still in the race.