Stage 21) Senago - Milano
Italy Sunday 30 May 2021 30.3 km
João Almeida sixth at the Giro d’Italia
For the second consecutive year, João Almeida concluded the Corsa Rosa inside the top 10. After spending an astonishing 15 consecutive days in the pink jersey before taking fourth overall last autumn, the man from Caldas da Rainha confirmed that result despite the fact the 104th edition had more summit finishes and fewer ITT kilometers.
Sitting in 13th place at the start of the last week, well outside the top 10, João began an amazing comeback race, gradually gaining time in the big mountain stages. His resurgence was kick-started in the gruelling Cortina d’Ampezzo stage, where he infiltrated in the break on a rainy day and ended up taking an impressive sixth place that elevated him three positions in the overall standings.
Sega di Ala and Alpe di Mera, where he finished runner-up for mere seconds after proving out to be the strongest of the GC contenders, only underlined Almeida’s strong condition, which was on display one more time on Alpe Motta, where the 22-year-old showed a lot of grinta and determination to push himself through the pain as he continued to make inroads in the rankings. With one day to go, Almeida knew he had one more card up his sleeve, the 30.3km Milano individual time trial, and he used this opportunity to the maximum, jumping over two more opponents en route to fifth on the stage and sixth in the general classification.
“Despite arriving here after three hard weeks, I felt quite good and was focused on doing a good ITT, and I’m content with the result, especially on a flat course like this. Sixth overall is a very good result and I’m happy to be back in the top 10 after last year’s edition”, said João. “Overall, it was a good Giro d’Italia for me, a race where I learned a lot and where I could see the improvements I have made in the big mountains, where I could stay with the real climbers.”
For Rémi Cavagna, it was a cruel end to his fifth Grand Tour in Milano, where the Corsa Rosa finished for the 79th time in history. The French ITT Champion delivered a very solid and confident ride, going through both intermediate checkpoints with impressive times, and looked on track to clock up the victory, but crashed with just 500 meters to go, after missing a tricky turn. Rémi got himself up from the ground and back on his bike quickly, but the time lost in that incident proved decisive and he concluded stage 21 as runner-up, just 12 seconds behind the winner.
“It’s a real pity. I did a very good time trial, but I took the last turn full gas, as I forgot about it, and went down. I got back on my bike, but there was nothing more to do at that point, so it’s really frustrating, as I felt there was a chance for me to win today. On the other hand, I can’t say I am disappointed finishing second, as I gave everything out there”, Cavagna explained after the stage.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images