João Almeida avoids penalty for littering after Giro d’Italia judge’s mix-up with team-mate

The Portuguese GC rider faced a time penalty for a second offence, but managed to have the infringement overturned

João Almeida at the Giro d'Italia 2021
(Image credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

João Almeida has avoided a penalty for littering after race judges confused him with a team-mate at the Giro d’Italia. 

The Deceuninck - Quick-Step leader was initially handed a fine of 500 Swiss francs (£392) on stage three for littering outside the designated zone, which put him at risk of a one-minute time penalty for a second offence. 

But according to Italian cycling website Spaziociclismo, the race commissaires mistook Almeida, number 92, for his team-mate Fausto Masnada, whose race number is 97, 

Almeida, who wore the pink jersey for two weeks in last year’s Giro, told Rai TV before the stage of stage four: “They’ve cancelled my penalty. 

“I was on the attack all day and I knew that the television cameras were on me, so I was extra careful not to litter. I’ve spoken to the judges and they’ve cancelled my punishment, but it’s my word against theirs.” 

On April 1, 2021, the UCI implemented strict new rules around littering in races in a bid to improve the environmental impact of the sport. 

The new rules initially stated that a rider would be immediately disqualified from a race for littering outside the designated refuse zones, but the UCI faced an almost immediately backlash after Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën) was kicked out of the Tour of Flanders. 

In mid-April, the UCI then changed rules on discarding bidons and gel wrappers following the backlash. 

Under the new rules, riders throwing bottles in one-day races will be punished through a fine and a deduction of UCI points for the first offence, followed by a disqualification for a second incident.

>>> Elia Viviani apologises to Davide Cimolai for altercation after finish of stage three at Giro d’Italia 2021 

In stage races, the first offence will result in a fine and a deduction of UCI points for the rider, the second incident will result in a one-minute time penalty, while a third infringement will lead to disqualification. 

Almeida, currently fourth overall in the Giro, would have been at risk of a one-minute time penalty for a second infringement if his littering punishment had been upheld, which would have been a blow to his general classification ambitions. 

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Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.