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UAE Emirates boss: ‘João Almeida isn’t here to work’

Portuguese talent will see support and leadership duties in a five-year deal with UAE Team Emirates beginning in 2022.

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One of the most active teams on the market going int0 2022 is UAE Team Emirates.

The team is bolstering its roster across all terrain, including the arrival of highly touted Portuguese rider João Almeida from Deceuninck-Quick-Step. Two top-10s in his first two grand tours at the Giro d’Italia confirm his talent.

Speaking to Ciclo21.com, UAE sports manager Joxean Matxín Fernández said Almeida won’t be fetching water bottles for anyone.

“He’s a very important rider for us, and he’s not coming here to work for anyone,” Matxín told Ciclo21. “Today’s cycling is along the lines of having various leaders, and that’s what we’re hoping to do with João, who is super-smart, and he will have space to perform and he will be a reference.”

Almeida, 23, moves to the UAE-backed team on a five-year deal after two very successful seasons at Deceuninck-Quick-Step. A graduate of Hagens Berman Axeon, Almeida quickly emerged as a grand tour contender and is the best Portuguese prospect in a generation.

With Tadej Pogačar expected to put a focus on what could be a third straight Tour de France title, Matxín said it’s likely Almeida could race the Giro and Vuelta a España next year.

“We’ll have a strong team around him,” Matxín said. “We are not expecting him to be the next Pogačar. João Almeida has to be João Almeida, and we want to go step by step.”