Runner-up in Palermo, the 22-year-old Portuguese will wear the ciclamino jersey on Sunday.
One of Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s two Grand Tour debutants, João Almeida put in an incredible exhibition of stage 1 of the 103rd Giro d’Italia and finished in second place, after holding the fastest provisional time for almost two hours. Almeida was one of the early starters, when the sirocco that blew from the Mediterranean was an extra challenge, but thanks to a combination of skills, aggressive riding and , he covered the demanding 15.1km-long course between Monreale and Palermo in 15:46, averaging 57.46km/h in the process.
Of the many pink jersey contenders and time trial specialists that left the start ramp after him, only Filippo Ganna, who won the discipline’s world title last month, could improve Almeida’s time. A podium finisher at this year’s Vuelta a Burgos, Giro dell’Emilia and Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, João sits in second overall following this complicated opening stage, which means that on Sunday he will get on loan the race’s prestigious maglia ciclamino.
“The wind was very strong today, and just tackling that climb in the beginning, which had also a cobbled section, wasn’t easy at all. I struggled a bit, but I remained focused and rode at my own pace, and even later, on that technical descent and on the flat, I didn’t take any risks, especially as the wind was coming from the left and then from the right.”
“The corners were also a bit slippery, but I managed it well and was blown away at the finish when I saw that I had the best time. It was a real honour to stay in the hot seat for so long, it felt great. Taking second on my very first Grand Tour stage is a perfect start that makes me very happy and feeds my confidence for the next three weeks”, said the second Portuguese rider in history, and the first in 31 years, to sport a Giro d’Italia distinctive jersey.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images