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Almeida angry after Ineos Grenadiers let gaps open in overall contenders’ sprint

João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates)
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) (Image credit: Getty Images)

João Almeida finished safely in the group of Giro d’Italia contenders in Cogne and so remains third overall, 30 seconds behind Richard Carapaz, but the usually calm and collected Portuguese rider was angry and scowl-faced beyond the finish line.

Almeida was convinced that Pavel Sivakov of Ineos Grenadiers had purposely hit the brakes and sat up in sight of the finish line to try to open a time gap and so help Carapaz gain a few seconds on his overall rivals. Video footage of the video shows that Sivakov eases up and a gap opens but it is unclear if he did it on purpose or if he was simply tired after the surge to the finish line.

Initial results indicated there was a two-second gap but later the official results indicated that gap was less than one second and so all the overall contenders were given the same time.

Before knowing that, Almeida sought out Jai Hindley and Carapaz to vent his anger but got short-shrift from both of them.  

“We were just telling each other how much we like each other’s company,” Hindley joked of their exchange.        

Almeida told Cyclingnews that he was convinced Sivakov had perhaps hit the brakes and eased up to try and create a gap.

“It was just a tactical thing. I was on the wheel and his teammate was braking, that’s why I took the gap,” Almeida said post-stage before it was confirmed he had not lost time.

“It was two seconds and that’s something, but in the end there’s nothing I could do about it. It is what it is.”

When it was pointed out that the Giro d’Italia can be won and lost by two seconds, Almeida said: “It can happen.”    

Sivakov quickly descended the long climb to head to the Ineos Grenadiers team bus for the long transfer to Salo’ for the rest day.  

Cyclingnews asked Richard Carapaz about the incident after the stage but he finished ahead of Sivakov.

“I didn’t see anything because I was up front,” the Ecuadorian told Cyclingnews.

Carapaz takes the maglia rosa into Monday’s third rest day and mountainous final week. He leads Hindley by just seven seconds, with Almeida third at 30 seconds and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) fourth at 59 seconds.  

With a series of mountain stages, the mountain finish on the Marmolada on Saturday and the 17.4km time trial around Verona on the final Sunday, every second could count in the fight for overall victory.

With so much hard racing to come and so much already done, including during Saturday’s stage around Turin, all the overall contenders rode a conservative race on Sunday to Cogne in the northwestern Val d’Aosta region.

Ineos Grenadiers controlled the peloton once the break of the day was formed, with only UAE Team Emirates taking over at one point.    

“I think everyone was a little tired after yesterday. It was a small group at the finish but it was a good day out there,” Almeida explained.  

“We wanted to accelerated on the second climb if I felt good. I was okay but my teammates were struggling a little bit, so we decided to take it steady. There was still the final climb and there are still many more climbs coming next week.”

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.