Skip to main content

New leader Almeida predicts Volta a Catalunya will go down to the wire

VILANOVA I LA GELTRU SPAIN MARCH 25 Joo Almeida of Portugal and UAE Team Emirates best young jersey competes during the 101st Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2022 Stage 5 a 2063km stage from La Pobla de Segur to Vilanova i la Geltr VoltaCatalunya101 WorldTour on March 25 2022 in Vilanova i la Geltru Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) during stage 5, which saw him take the race lead at the intermediate sprint (Image credit: David RamosGetty Images)

João Almeida seized the race lead of the Volta a Catalunya on Friday's stage 5 with an impressive turn of speed at an intermediate sprint but the UAE Team Emirates leader remains cautious about whether he can the overall classification on Sunday in Barcelona.

The GC classification remains intriguingly close after the first of three post-Pyrenean stages. Almeida had previously been tied on time with Nairo Quintana, but has now inches ahead thanks to his third place and one-second time bonus in the late intermediate sprint.

A year after he briefly held the lead in the Volta a Catalunya, the 23-year-old is now back in the top spot overall but with Quintana only one second behind and no less than 13 riders at less than a minute, Almeida accepts the race could well go down to the wire.

"It's very possible that whoever wins the last stage in Barcelona wins the race overall," Almeida said.

"So many riders are close together that it's a stage which is sure to see loads of attacks. The climb we face on each circuit [with a total of six eight-kilometre laps - Ed.] is very hard, and the drop down to the finish is really important too. The bonus seconds are sure to count for a lot."

Almeida was his usual phlegmatic self when asked about how he had managed to take the lead in the intermediate sprint, which seemingly occurred thanks to his keeping a cool head after the original plan went awry.

"Finally it worked out, but a little bit before I was following a teammate and moving up in the last 500 metres to try and stop Nairo getting any seconds' bonus," Almeida recounted.

"The plan was for me to sprint and I was behind a teammate for the lead out but he lost the other guys' wheels. So I went for it myself and finally got the bonus."

His sprint was on the far side of the road from the main battle for the bonuses and as Almeida himself acknowledged, it almost went unnoticed. 

The result was what counted.

"If I win that's great and if I don't then someone was better than me and I won't get too upset," Almeida said. 

"What matters is that I do my best."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

after your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.