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The 23-year-old Portuguese rider was poised in fourth overall in GC ahead of stage 18. The news was confirmed by UAE Team Emirates’ general manager, Mauro Gianetti in a call with VeloNews ahead of Thursday’s sprint stage.
“It’s true, it’s true. It’s COVID. It’s so shit. He wasn’t feeling so well last night and this morning and we did internal tests. Now we do the PCR but the fast test is positive. He’s out of the race. He has light symptoms so the most important thing is his health and that he recovers well. We tested all the riders and the staff but he’s the only positive,” Gianetti told VeloNews.
“It’s a very big shame. He was fighting for the podium still and the white jersey was virtually guaranteed. It is what it is, and this is the reality that we live. We have to face this.”
Almeida came into the Giro d’Italia with hopes of winning the maglia rosa after finishing fourth in 2020 and sixth the following year. He was a consistent presence at the front of this year’s race, rising to second overall after ten stages. However in the high mountains he was dropped several times by Richard Carapaz, Jai Hindley and Mikel Landa. The UAE Team Emirates rider still battled back after each initial setback and sat fourth at 1:54 with four stages in the race remaining.
“Almeida woke up last night from persistent pain in his throat and the test gave a positive result. We observe strict rules of prevention and, in addition to sanitizing the environments which the team uses each day (cars, buses, hotel rooms, etc.), we keep the athletes themselves in single rooms in order to limit very close contacts. However, despite these precautions they clearly do not provide 100% shelter as we have seen, ” said Michele De Grandi, UAE Team Emirates doctor at the Giro d’Italia.
Almeida is the second rider in this year’s Giro d’Italia to test positive for COVID-19. Ahead of stage 16 Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost) was ruled out of the race after a similar diagnosis.