João Almeida: I was a ‘little bit weaker’ than the others on Giro d’Italia stage 16
UAE Team Emirates GC challenger loses 14 seconds to the pink jersey but holds onto third place.
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TEMÙ, Italy (VN) — João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) says that he was weaker than the other leading GC contenders at the Giro d’Italia after losing time in the overall classification on stage 16.
Almeida was distanced on the final of the Valico di Santa Cristina with around 10 kilometers to go after an attack from Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) ripped apart the group of favorites, taking race leader Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) with him.
As he has done throughout the Giro d’Italia, Almeida didn’t panic, and he set his own pace behind as he tried to limit his losses and eventually rolled into the finish 14 seconds behind the maglia rosa group.
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“I like to pace myself, but I was going full gas, I had nothing left,” Almeida said after going to the podium to pick up his white jersey for the best young rider, a competition where he holds a healthy nine-minute advantage.
“In the end, it’s a super hard stage with 5,000 meters of climbing so in the end it’s all about the legs. I was maybe a little more weak than the others but then maybe tomorrow is different, maybe it’s worse. We don’t know, we’ll just keep fighting.”
As expected, stage 16 proved to be a big day for the general classification fight with both Astana-Qazaqstan and Bahrain-Victorious setting a furious pace on the front of the group of favorites. The push from Astana on the Mortirolo saw the bunch thinned out and was followed by an attack on the descent by Nibali.
In previous stages, Almeida has struggled compared to some of the other GC riders, but he was happy with how he coped with it on the Mortirolo.
“When they started to push on the climb, I was already predicting it, it was a really good pace and then I knew on the downhill he would try,” Almeida said. “Pozzovivo crashed in front of me, and I lost a few meters, but then I managed to come back and pass a few guys, and then I was in the front group, so I did a good descent.”
Despite losing time, Almeida kept hold of his third place in the overall standings. However, he is now 14 seconds behind the race leader after starting the day at 30 seconds, with Landa now just 15 seconds behind Almeida in fourth place.
There is still a lot to play for in the remaining five stages of the 2022 Giro d’Italia and the time trial, in particular, is a day where he can make up time on most of the riders around him.
“Everything is still on the table, there are some good time gaps, but nothing is lost. What I can say is that today was a super hard stage, losing 14 seconds is not that much over 5,000 meters but, in the end, it’s all about the legs,” he said.