Remco Evenepoel has said that he will work for his team-mate João Almeida in the final week of the Giro d'Italia 2021, after he lost 24 minutes on stage 16 of the race with Almeida moving up to 10th overall.
Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) lost a hefty chunk of time on the first mountain stage to Sestola right at the start of the race, but has slowly been improving as the race went on seeing him rise through the general classification.
By contrast, Evenepoel slipped down the overall after losing 24 minutes to the pink jersey of Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) seeing him sit at just over 28 minutes in the GC.
Speaking after stage 16, Evenepoel said: "Losing that much time shows that I didn’t have a good stage and I really felt the fatigue of the past two weeks in my legs, there’s no shame in admitting that.
"I said even before that I didn’t have any expectations coming into the race after that lengthy injury and with just two months of training, so I don’t think everyone thought I could be in top form for three weeks.
"At the same time, it’s a learning process that I am sure will help me in the future. I am happy for João, he worked hard for me in the last couple of days and deserves to be in the top 10, so we’re going to help him in the next stages to remain there."
Almeida has spent the race looking after Remco Evenepoel, but since the young Belgian has started slipping out of the GC fight the Portuguese rider has gone in search of his own opportunities.
His strong ride up the Giau meant that he was in a good position going over the top of the climb and was the best finisher out of the breakaway, taking sixth on the day, 1-21 behind Bernal, moving him into 10th overall.
Speaking in a team press release, Almeida said: "I felt good today despite the rain and cold. I wanted to go for the stage win, that’s why I attacked and joined that move, but the peloton was really strong and rode really hard, as they had other plans today.
"In the end, it wasn’t a bad day. I did my best and I’m happy to have gained a few places in the general classification. There’s still a long way to Milan and a lot of hard stages left, but we’ll continue to take it day by day and see where that takes us."
The first stage of the final week in this year's Giro is another tough mountain stage with two late climbs with steep gradients and a summit finish over 193km from Canazei to Sega di Ala before a hilly stage, two mountain stages and a time trial finish off the race.
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