Following a fourth place in 2020 and sixth last year, João Almeida returns to the Giro d'Italia next week as leader of UAE Team Emirates.
The 23-year-old, racing his first year for UAE since moving from QuickStep, heads up a strong seven-man selection which combines both GC and sprint ambitions with five-time Giro stage winner Fernando Gaviria also lining up.
Almeida will be supported by Alessandro Covi, Rui Costa, Davide Formolo, Diego Ulissi, Rui Oliveira and Max Richeze during the first Grand Tour of the season. He'll be aiming for a podium spot this time around, having worn the pink jersey for two weeks on his race debut two years ago.
"This is a special race for me, I have great memories here and I'm excited to come back together with a great team looking for some good results together," Almeida said in a team press release.
"The preparation for the Giro has gone really well. Since my last race I've been training at altitude in Sierra Nevada, Spain with some of my teammates and we have an excellent group assembled.
"Obviously my aim is to do a good GC, but we also have Fernando for the sprints and many guys who have won here at the Giro before. We can't wait to get it started."
Gaviria, who races Eschborn-Frankfurt on Sunday before taking on the Giro, will be hoping to add to his two victories so far in 2022, both at the Tour of Oman. He won the points jersey on his Giro debut back in 2017, like Almeida also racing for QuickStep.
Almeida, meanwhile, has enjoyed a solid start to 2022, finishing fifth at the UAE Tour, eighth at Paris-Nice, and third at the Volta a Catalunya, where he won the stage 4 summit finish at Boí Taüll.
"We're excited to be coming into the Giro with a strong team," said team directeur sportif Fabio Baldato. "Almeida will be our man for the general classification, and I think we have a team more than capable of supporting him.
"Gaviria is also back from injury and is looking good again so we'll have that card to play in the sprint stages. We have huge experience among our line-up, and we are motivated for what we hope will be a beautiful race."
Almeida will be among the main contenders for glory at this year's race, with the likes of Simon Yates, Richard Carapaz, and Miguel Angel López also taking part. Check out our analysis on the main GC contenders here.
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