João Almeida is among the few contenders already confirmed for the 2022 Giro d’Italia, but the Portuguese rider has expressed disappointment that the route will feature just 26km of time trialling, its lowest tally in sixty years.
RCS Sport unveiled the route of the 2022 Giro in instalments across four days this week and it soon became apparent that time trial miles would be at a premium. There are two time trials on the course: the 9.2km test in Budapest on stage 2 and the concluding 17.1km leg to Verona.
“The mountain stages will certainly be decisive because there are very few time trial kilometres,” Almeida said, according to Portuguese newspaper Publico.
“There’ll be the first time trial in Hungary of 9km and then the other one is only 17km. That’s why the climbs will count more. For me, it won’t be much of an advantage having only those two time trial stages, I would have preferred more kilometres against the watch.”
Almeida joins UAE Team Emirates for 2022 after spending the first two seasons of his professional career at Deceuninck-QuickStep. He finished 4th overall on the 2020 Giro after wearing the maglia rosa for two weeks, only losing the lead on the Stelvio with three days remaining. He raced in support of Remco Evenepoel early in the 2021 Giro but still reached Milan in 6th overall thanks to a strong final week.
Next May, the Giro will return once again to Mount Etna, where Almeida first took the pink jersey in 2020. The volcano is the site of the race’s first summit finish on stage 4, although the Giro follows a different route to Rifugio Sapienza this time out.
“It will be a bit harder at Etna this time, but I can’t wait to go back to the Giro and race up there again,” Almeida said. “It seems like quite a hard Giro, so the physical condition will have to be perfect. I’ll have to be in top condition to be really competitive.”
The 2022 Giro features some 51,000m of total climbing, and the final week includes a demanding stage over the Mortirolo and Santa Cristina to Aprica, as well as a demanding Dolomite test on the penultimate day that takes in the Passo San Pellegrino and Passo Pordoi ahead of a summit finish on the Passo Fedaia.
Almeida and two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) are among the few contenders to have confirmed their participation thus far, and it remains to be seen if the dearth of time trialling kilometres will dissuade riders like Evenepoel from lining out at the Giro.
“There haven’t been a lot of riders confirmed for now, but I have to concentrate on myself,” said Almeida, whose new UAE Team Emirates companion Tadej Pogačar is expected to focus once again on the Tour de France.
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