Joao Almeida joins Pogacar at UAE Emirates

Paris (AFP) –

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Promising Portuguse all-rounder Joao Almeida has left Deceuninck and signed a five-year deal with the UAE Emirates team where he will race alongside double Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar.

Almeida led the Giro d'Italia for two weeks in 2019 eventually coming fourth. He followed up by finishing sixth there in 2020 whilst supporting Remco Evenepoel.

Almeida is a powerful time-triallist, can defend his interests in all but the toughest mountains, and has a keen racing instinct with a competitive spirit.

"He’s a hugely talented and versatile rider and I’m sure we’ll enjoy many great successes together with him in our squad," team manager Joxean Matxin Fernadez said.

"Joao will bring great things to the group, both as an athlete and as a person.”

The 23-year-old's signing deepens the strength of burgeoning newcomer UAE Emirates, who have appeared alongside Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers at the top of World Tour cycling.

"I am quite a thoughtful person by nature and I find myself already dreaming and visualising about the future and I’m super excited about it," said Almeida.

After winning a second straight Tour de France in July Pogacar signed a new seven-year deal, previously unheard of in cycling, making him the peloton's top paid star.