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Almeida, 22, was one of the stars of a wild Giro ride that saw Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) take the flowers, with Sunweb rounding out the podium with Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman. Standing in the way was a surprised and stubborn Almeida, who confirmed his talent during an impressive three-week run in his grand tour debut.
The Giro started off with a bang in Palermo, where Almeida was second in the opening time trial.
“I was pretty confident and motivated, but never in my wildest dreams would I have dreamed of being on the podium on my first ever grand tour stage,” Almeida said on the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team website. “To finish runner-up in the Palermo individual time trial was insane, with so many strong time trialists in the race, but that ride gave me wings and made me think that I could end up in the pink jersey in a couple of days, knowing that [Filippo] Ganna wasn’t a climber.”
Almeida overtook the maglia rosa on Mount Etna, and held it all the way to the Stelvio, a full two-week run in pink.
“The team was amazing, I gave everything to try and take the jersey, and when I got word that I had managed it for the smallest of margins I was stunned. I just couldn’t believe it,” Almeida recounted. “From that point on, I got to experience an astonishing 15 days in the overall lead and I can tell you that every single time I had that iconic jersey on my shoulders I felt a huge confidence boost, motivation, and responsibility.”
Almeida held on longer than most expected from the 22-year-old, fending off attacks before succumbing deep into the final week.
“I lost it on the Stelvio – another stage I’ll never forget – but not because I was weak, but because others were stronger,” he said. “I emptied myself there, but it was a bit too long and too hard, especially as it came after several demanding days that really took their toll on me. … I carried on and managed to finish fourth overall, which was massive for my first Grand Tour participation.”