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APRICA, Italy (VN) – Bahrain Victorious leaders Mikel Landa and Pello Bilbao said that they and their team would keep on riding in aggressive fashion at the end of an attritional 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia in which none of the four leading contenders for the title could find a clear edge on their rivals.
Landa finished the day as he started it, 59 seconds down on race leader Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) in fourth place overall, while Bilbao slipped a place to seventh as he lost two minutes, partly as a consequence of a tangle with his teammate on the final climb that left him on the ground.
The Bahrain team flooded the front of the maglia rosa group coming onto the final climb, the Valico di Santa Cristina, setting a fierce pace from the bottom, hoping to crack Carapaz, Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates).
“We tried with the whole team setting a strong tempo, but Richard, Hindley and Almeida were all very, very strong. But we’ve still got some hard stages to come. We’ll keep on trying,” said Landa when he paused briefly behind the line as rain finally began to douse this super-heated Giro.
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Bilbao said he hadn’t suffered any significant injury when he and Landa appeared to collide on one of the steeper sections of the Santa Cristina.
“I’m fine,” said the Spaniard. “We weren’t going all that fast and I managed to get back on my bike quickly. I won’t have any problems,” said the Spaniard. He added, though, that the incident did take a toll after he chased back up to the maglia rosa group.
“It’s a shame, but it broke our rhythm a bit,” said Bilbao. “The work we’d been doing could have given us a little more. But in the end it was hard for me to get back on terms. I had to make an effort to get back into the group and then the acceleration I made to do so meant that I couldn’t sustain the pace and couldn’t make that last push.
“But I think we all worked well and Mikel responded well. He came into his own, we all trusted him and we’re on the right track.”
— Team Bahrain Victorious (@BHRVictorious) May 24, 2022
Bilbao suggested that the stage had ended in a draw between the favorites, but said that the contest still has a long way to run.
“Today was the first round, but we’re going to keep trying day by day, pushing and pushing ourselves, and, on stage 20, we’ll draw conclusions,” he said. “But so far we can see they’re all very evenly matched. But we’ll keep trying.”