João Almeida is a Portuguese professional cyclist and rider for UAE Team Emirates. He is most known as Portugal's current best pro road rider, one of the most consistent stage-racers and best scorers in the UCI rankings. He has won races such as the Tour de Pologne and the Tour de Luxembourg, whilst also completing all his Grand Tour presences high in the GC, and having ridden most of the 2020 Giro d'Italia in the pink jersey.
Name: João Almeida
Born: 5 August 1998
Birthplace: Caldas da Rainha, Portugal
Turned Pro: 2017
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João Almeida was born on the 5th of August 1998 in the city of Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. With Portuguese cycling emerging over the last few years, Almeida has come as the country's first Grand Tour specialist in a long time, and has in his short career already achieved several high-end results, alongside teaming up with the likes of Tadej Pogacar.
João Almeida currently has one of the longest standing contracts in cycling, having signed until 2026 with UAE Team Emirates, with a reported salary of between €1-2 million euros. Almeida is estimated to have ridden the 2020 Giro d'Italia Piancavallo climb at 6.34W/Kg for 38 minutes, having his FTP at around 6.1-6.3W/Kg.
Almeida first stood out at international level in the 2016 season where, as a junior in his final year Almeida rode to many wins in the country's domestic races and cup, and also became national champion both on the time-trial and road race. In 2017, his first year as a pro rider, he raced for the Bulgarian Unieuro Trevigiani-Hemus 1896 team, where he won a stage at the Tour of Ukraine, at the Tour of Mersin and at the Toscana Terra di Ciclismo Eroica in a calendar that was a mix between under-23 races and eastern European calendar mostly.
In 2018 Almeida signed with the Hagens Berman Axeon team, where several Portuguese riders have taken a step into. The American team is to this day talked as the best under-23 team in the world by most, and allowed him to keep his calendar of under-23 events together with an international calendar. He gave great indications by winning the under-23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April, and then riding into 2nd place at the under-23 Giro d'Italia where only Aleksandr Vlasov took the best of him. Almeida also finished 5th at the Ronde de l'Isard and 7th at the Tour de l'Avenir.
In 2019 Almeida had a calmer year, however away from the main under-23 stage-races where he specialized in. He became Portuguese champion on the road race and time-trial in his category, and finished 4th at the Tour of Utah late in the year, a performance which saw him rise back up the ranks. His performances had been convincing and he signed a two-year deal with Deceuninck-Quick Step. He did not ride into great form in his start with the team, however following the Covid-19 break Almeida was in great form and fighting for wins alongside the other World Tour outfits. He finished 3rd at the Vuelta a Burgos where Remco Evenepoel took the win, and then 7th at the Tour de l'Ain where Primoz Roglic won. He then finished 2nd to Vlasov once again, but this time at the Elite Giro dell'Emilia.
Almeida then finished 3rd at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, and won his place at the Giro d'Italia lineup. He almost rode into the pink jersey with a 2nd place on the opening day, but on the 3rd stage to Mount Etna the Portuguese rode into the race lead. Although a strong climber, few would've expected him to resist the way he did, having a massive breakthrough throughout the whole Giro. Almeida kept the pink jersey throughout the rest of the 1st week, and then throughout the entire 2nd week through mountain stages and a time-trial.
It was only on stage 18 as INEOS attacked the race that Almeida would drop from the lead. Nevertheless in the next days he continued in tremendous form and climbed into 4th position back again. 2021 hence began with different objectives and status within the team, riding into 3rd spot at the UAE Tour early in the year, 6th and 7th at Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya respectively. He co-lead the team with Remco Evenepoel at the start of the Giro, but a bad day in the rain early on saw him tumble down the GC, and work for the Belgian. However, as Remco Evenepoel struggled with form from the 2nd week onwards, Almeida was given freedom in the final week.
He started stage 16 in 13th place 8:32 minutes behind Egan Bernal, but finished the race in 6th position 7:24 minutes down, effectively blasting through the final week, almost winning the 17th stage to Sega di Ala. He won the Portuguese national time-trial championships afterwards, and won the overall classification at the Tour de Pologne where he took two stage wins. He continued on a more secondary calendar throughout the latter part of the year, winning a stage and overall classification aswell at the Skoda Tour de Luxembourg, and finishing on the podium of both Giro dell'Emilia and Milano-Torino.
In 2022 he signed a contract with UAE Team Emirates that had him team up with Tadej Pogacar in his debut at the UAE Tour where the team won the GC and Almeida still rode into 5th position. He finished 8th at Paris-Nice, and at the Volta a Catalunya he won the queen stage to Boí Taüll. Almeida was in the lead of the Spanish race until the 6th stage where Richard Carapaz and Sergio Higuita raided the race, and Almeida settled with 3rd position. Given the freedom, he was assigned leader for the Giro d'Italia, where he rode a strong and consistent race.
Almeida was in the fight for the podium together with Jai Hindley, Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa, but was forced to abandon the race before the 18th stage as he tested positive for Covid-19 whilst sitting in 4th position. He recovered to win the road race national championships the month after, and the queen stage at the Vuelta a Burgos, where he also finished 2nd in the GC. The Vuelta a Espana was then on the menu where he shared the leadership together with Juan Ayuso. Almeida rode into a 5th position in the Spanish Grand Tour after a consistent race, contributing to the team's victory at the team's classification.
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