Can Joao Almeida win the Giro d'Italia? The fourth attempt may be the right one -

Can Joao Almeida win the Giro d'Italia?  The fourth attempt may be the right one -

Of Marco Bonarrigo

Joao Almeida won on Monte Bondone and was second 18'' behind the pink jersey Thomas. For him in the past so much bad luck

Joao Almeida starts again from four: three times the Portuguese and the Giro d'Italia have tried to fall in love and it ended badly. The fourth (fingers crossed) maybe the good one. Three years ago Joao sank on the first ramps of the Stelvio (the stop was that of the Cancano Lakes) in one of those empty days that fall upon you once in your career. It happened to him at the worst moment: in the pink jersey for two weeks, he was very fast. But he was 21 years old and had a thousand alibis and still finished fourth. In 2021 he was sixth without ever shining, last year a positive swab three days from the end cost him the white jersey and fourth place before a time trial that would have taken him to the podium. From favorite to failed promise, the short step. On the fourth attempt,
yesterday it was he who awakened the Giro from 15 days of lethargy: he attacked at the right time, he didn't get upset when the other big names tried to keep him in a bain-marie and, once he recovered from Thomas, gave the Welshman fair changes, burning him in the sprint on the finish line. He, who had already taken and digested Covid two weeks ago, is now ready to fight for victory.

To think that after the three failed attempts Almeida seemed resigned: Maybe I have to aim for a different target, he had whispered to journalists before tackling a Vuelta where right up to the foot of the podium, overtaken by Evenepoel, from Mas, but above all from Juan Ayuso, the twenty-year-old phenomenon who wears his own shirt, that of the UAE-Emirates. Now if you run (paid handsomely) in a super team where the absolute star of shine shines Tadej Pogacar (always and only Tour de France), and that of the Spanish starlet Ayuso (to whom the role of captain in the Vuelta belongs by right), you have to race the Giro d'Italia.

Almeida prepared him well this year, trying to maintain his time trial qualities in a race that has so many kilometers against the clock (3 in Fossacesia, 9 in Cesena) but improving on the longer and closer climbs, its weak point, to avoid the famous empty days. His season started with a few days of racing but with quality: second in the Tirreno-Adriatico 18” behind Roglic, third in Catalonia behind the Slovenian and Evenepoel. Tomorrow Almeida will have to pass her first stress test: from Oderzo to Val di Zoldo there are two very hard climbs (Forcella Cibiana and Coi) that Joao will have to manage as an expert leader even if he will face them with the white jersey of best young man on.

May 24, 2023 (change May 24, 2023 | 07:15)

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