Stage 20) Verbania - Valle Spluga / Alpe Motta
Italy Saturday 29 May 2021 164 km
Giro d’Italia: Almeida fights hard on last mountain stage
Passo San Bernardino (23.7km, 6.2%), Passo Spluga (8.85km, 7.3%) and Alpe Motta (7.3km, 7.5%) were the last classified ascents of this year’s race, all crammed inside the final 90 kilometers of stage 20, which started in Verbania and crossed the Swiss border before a return to Italy, for one more showdown between the climbers.
João Almeida was part of the reduced peloton that arrived at the bottom of Alpe Motta, where they trailed a three-man group by 40 seconds. The hard tempo pushed by the pink jersey’s team put the 22-year-old on his limit, but dropped three times in the space of five kilometers, he dug deep into his resources and regained contact with the small group, impressing one more time with his amazing pacing abilities and never-say-die attitude, qualities that have earned him plaudits since his Grand Tour debut in 2020.
Distanced ahead of the flamme rouge by the overall leader as the climb ramped up to double-digit gradients, Almeida gritted his teeth, ignored the pain and put in another vigorous effort, expertly limiting the losses and taking fifth on the stage won by Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) after a long-range attack. It was his fourth top 10 finish in the space of ten days and one that him on track for another solid overall result at the Corsa Rosa, which in twenty-four hours will bring down the curtain over this 104th edition.
“Today was really hard, with some very tough gradients especially on the last climb, but I’m happy with my result and with being there again with the best guys. I did everything that I could and although I came outside the podium, I am satisfied with what I achieved on this stage. I can’t believe three weeks have passed and on Sunday the race will come to an end. I don’t know what’s possible to do in terms of general classification, but I will give my best in the time trial and try to finish the race on a high note”, said João after his display of bravery and determination on Alpe Motta.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images