2023 is a new year but the main goal continues to be the Giro d'Italia for João Almeida. As Tadej Pogacar targets the Tour de France, the Portuguese rider continuous his hunt for success at the Corsa Rosa, and will dream of the pink jersey once again this year.
“I’ve got unfinished business with the Giro d’Italia. If I had done it normally, I’d maybe have gone to the Tour de France in 2023," Almeida told Cyclingnews. “But after the way it went, I want to do the Giro again, have a normal race with no setbacks and see what I can do.”
Last season his plans were wrecked by a Covid-19 infection at the Giro. He was riding in fourth place and in contention for the podium - and win - in the final week until he came down with the disease at a very bad timing. “It’s a Grand Tour so you have some shit days. The last stage I rode I felt a bit weird, but some days in a Grand Tour, that just happens, we suffer more."
"Then at three or four in the morning, I woke up with a sore throat, temperature, in pain. Even it hadn’t been COVID, I couldn’t have started. But we did five or six tests and all of them came back positive anyway,” Almeida described.
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An abandon was inevitable: “It was frustrating. I think I was up there, in a good position, and anything could happen in the last days, as we saw. But I’m young, so I can go back again. Situations like that, they’re part of the game.”
He returned to race the Vuelta a Espana where he finished fifth, besides winning the national road race title and queen stage at the Vuelta a Burgos. This May he will team up with Jay Vine in the pursuit of a high overall classification result at the Giro d'Italia, before he likely begins aiming towards the Tour de France.