"I see my role being one of the last guys in the mountains" - Joao Almeida fully committed to domestique role at 2024 Tour de France

For the 2024 Tour de France, UAE Team Emirates will send an all-star lineup to support Tadej Pogacar with viable Grand Tour contenders in their own right consigned to domestique duty. One of those superstar support riders will be podium finisher at the 2023 Giro d'Italia, João Almeida.

Although as mentioned, Almeida is a previous podium finisher at the Giro d'Italia and has finished 4th at the 2022 Vuelta a Espana, the Portuguese is fully committed to his role of super domestique for his Tour de France debut. "To make my debut in the biggest race in the world is massive. We’re currently preparing at altitude, then I’ll race in the Tour de Suisse which will be my main preparation," writes the 25-year-old in a column for The National News. "The team is super strong, and of course we are confident. Tadej [Pogacar] is in great form, and the team is coming off a great Giro d’Italia performance."

The fact Pogacar was so dominant at the Giro d'Italia last month, winning by just short of ten minutes despite the perceived weakness of the team around him, given the team of Almeida, Juan Ayuso, Adam Yates, Pavel Sivakov, Marc Soler, Tim Wellens and Nils Politt will support him at the Tour de France, it's hard to see how Pogacar doesn't start as the overwhelming favourite.

"We know the Giro-Tour double is a huge challenge, and there will be big rivals at the Tour, but we are ready for it," says Almeida. "We understand that anything can happen over twenty-one stages, so we need to stay fully focused and give our best every single day. The belief in Tadej and the strength of our team gives us the drive to aim high and push for this monumental achievement."

Almeida took the first Grand Tour stage of his career at the 2023 Giro d'Italia

The fact that this will be Almeida's Tour de France debut, gives the Portuguese extra incentive to impress and ensure Pogacar reclaims the Maillot Jaune. "As a kid growing up watching cycling, the Tour de France is the pinnacle – it’s the biggest race and it rightly gets the most attention," he explains. "To say I’m excited is an understatement. This will be my first Tour and I can’t wait to experience it first-hand."

"We’ve done reckons of some of the mountain stages and there are definitely some challenging days ahead. Right from the start in Italy, on Stage 1, we’ll be right into the General Classification battle. Teamwork will be absolutely crucial, especially with the level of competition expected this year," Almeida concludes. "From a personal standpoint, I see my role being one of the last guys in the mountains, when it’s really hard, supporting Tadej and ensuring we stay in contention. It’s about working together, staying focused, and executing our strategy perfectly. I’m ready to give my all for the team."

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