At 23, João Almeida, begins next Friday, in Budapest, his third participation in the Tour of Italy – 4th in 2020, 6th in 2021. After three days missing from his family and friends, he heads for Hungary with the team he will lead in the certainty that Portugal will have their eyes riveted on him and that he will be “on the spot” to wake up, in the best place on the podium, from the pink dream.
– A few hours before the start of the Vuelta a Italia in Budapest, Hungary, in what will be his third participation at the age of 23, were the 23 days of competition he had before the race ideal or insufficient?
– I fulfilled the plan established with the technical team, when it was decided that I would run the Giro d’Italia. It is with this in mind that we have moved forward with the training and competition calendar. In 2020, at the start of the Giro, it had 27 days of racing, in 2021 the same 23 this year. The physical indices are, at this stage, very good and within the parameters that have been defined. As they say – I’m in the sweet spot!
– And do you get to the point excited about what you achieved back then?
– Everything went as planned, with good results. I was in the top five seven times, I won a stage and I was the leader in Catalonia, I didn’t have any big crashes and if I didn’t win in the general classification it’s because the adversaries were superior. As the old saying goes in cycling – not the winner, but the most consistent…
– Was the last stage in the Sierra Nevada the boost needed to prepare for the Giro?
– After February and March in competition, we spent three weeks at altitude doing scheduled training and filling out the technical team plan. We worked in different weather conditions to rehearse and anticipate certain situations that we will encounter in the race. It is true that after the Miguel Indurain Grand Prix I was sick for a few days and without training, but I have recovered and at this point I feel in excellent condition.
– After fourth place in first year and the sixth in the following ambitions for this Giro 2022?
– In all the races I run for the best results, we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes because of their own fault, sometimes because of racing contingencies, many of them because the opponents were superior. In my head, I have the dream of staying on the podium, which is not yet realized. But finishing in the top five will be great. You have to admit that the opponents start with the same objectives as mine and in the end only one can win. But I would like to see myself wearing the rose in the arenas of Verona!
– This time it’s the line leader. How do you cope with the task?
– Naturally and aware of the responsibility of leading the UAE-Team Emirates. I have the confidence of the coaches, my teammates and I have always assumed my responsibilities in the working group, as will be the case on this round. With the particularity of knowing that I will have all of Portugal by my side and the promise to give the best of myself.
Read the full interview in the print edition or in the digital edition of A BOLA