Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
Stage 2) Banyoles - Banyoles
Spain Tuesday 23 March 2021 18.5 km
Almeida dons the leader’s jersey at the Volta a Catalunya
Third overall at the UAE Tour and sixth at Tirreno-Adriatico – results that underline his incredible consistency since the start of the year – João Almeida was the last Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to roll down the ramp at Tuesday’s Volta a Catalunya 18.5km individual time trial around Banyones.
The Portuguese all-rounder was again in superb form, clocking up 22:34 at the finish and slotting into third, a result which he held until the curtain came down over the stage. It was João’s first World Tour podium of the season, one that propelled him into the leader’s jersey, another remarkable achievement for the Caldas da Rainha native, who last season sported the Giro d’Italia maglia rosa for 15 consecutive days.
“I wasn’t expecting this before the stage, but I felt good today and did my best in this time trial. Coming into the race I knew that the time trial was one of my weapons and I could gain some time thanks to it, and it’s great so see I’ve done that. I want to do a good general classification, but we’ll take it day by day and see what the big climbs will bring”, said Almeida, who has in his possession also the best young rider jersey.
Rémi Cavagna was another Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to deliver a solid individual time trial, but for the second time in the space of just two weeks he finished runner-up, again for a small difference. After coming extremely close to his first victory of the season in Paris-Nice, the French National Champion was one of the riders to watch in the first ITT in 14 years scheduled by the Volta a Catalunya.
Cavagna showed he was on a good day as soon as went through the intermediate checkpoint, where he improved the marker set by his teammate, Czech Champion Josef Cerny, by six seconds. The “TGV of Clermont-Ferrand” continued showing the same strong turn of legs and by the time he concluded his effort, he averaged a whooping 49.26km/h, going into the hot seat. Rémi stayed there for about one hour, until his time was bested by Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) for a handful of seconds.
Photo credit: ©David Ramos/Getty Images