Another impressive ride helped the Portuguese retain his spot in the top 3 with two days to go.
João Almeida successfully defended his place on the podium of the season’s first World Tour race, and he did it by going on the attack with two kilometers remaining of stage 5 to the top of Jabel Jais (21.4km, 5.4%), the country’s highest mountain.
Despite the race being animated by an eight-man breakaway – the largest group to feature at the front this week – the peloton was at all times in complete control, even allowing the escapees to open up a four-minute lead before turning on the gas and bringing them back one by one. With two kilometers to go, João accelerated from the red jersey group, his powerful attack making an important selection and helping the chasers overhaul the last of the escapees.
Tracked down by the other GC guys, the 22-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider remained at the front as the group was breaking up and arrived home just a few seconds down on Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), who launched a late attack that helped him prevail. Fifth on the stage, Almeida cemented his place in the top 3 overall and is now just two days away from getting his best ever result in a World Tour stage race.
“The climb was quite steady and I felt good from the beginning, so I rode it at a nice pace. In the final, I tried to attack as I had nothing to lose, but the gradient wasn’t steep enough to open a gap. At the end of the day, I am happy that I kept my third place and will continue with the same focus over the next stages”, said João.
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