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VERONA, Italy (VN) – Seven years on from his last podium finish in a grand tour in 2015, when he finished third in the Giro d’Italia, Mikel Landa finally emulated that feat after being dogged by a string of crashes and other setbacks in the intervening period.
Although there was a remote possibility that he could overhaul Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) and take second place on the general classification, the Bahrain Victorious rider was content to ride a risk-free time trial knowing that he had a considerable advantage on fourth-placed Vincenzo Nibali (Astana-Qasaqstan).
“I’m very happy to be back on the podium of a Grand Tour. I can’t hide the fact that I’ve done a lot of work and had a lot of subsequent attempts since I last finished on the podium in 2015. I’m very satisfied with how it’s gone,” the 32-year-old Spaniard said. “It’s not been easy. I’ve had some good moments, some bad moments, and I’ve put a lot of effort in. But it’s a nice feeling, very gratifying that things have gone my way again at last.”
Landa acknowledged that Giro winner Jai Hindley and runner-up Carapaz were the two strongest riders in the race and that there was little he could have done differently to gain an edge on them or their respective Bora-Hansgrohe and Ineos Grenadiers teams.
“It might seem like there were opportunities, but it’s very difficult when you’re up against teams as strong as Bora and Ineos. In truth, I don’t think there was an opportunity anywhere that I missed,” he said.
“There wasn’t another stage like Saturday’s on the Passo Fedaia where the summit finish was so hard. On the Aprica stage, there was a descent to the finish, the same goes for the Lavarone stage, and the Santuario di Castelmonte finish wasn’t tough enough.”
The Bahrain leader said he wasn’t at all surprised that Hindley had taken the title, adding that he sees the Australian’s Bora team as a growing power when it comes to chasing overall titles at the grand tours.
“Two years ago Jai finished second so it’s not a big, big surprise. He’s a good rider and the Bora team is getting stronger and stronger,” he said.
“They’re emerging as a new team for the GCs. We didn’t expect their tactics on the Turin stage. We were all looking to Ineos, who we’re more used to seeing taking control of races, and Bora ended up doing a lot of damage that day,” he said.
— Team Bahrain Victorious (@BHRVictorious) May 29, 2022
Landa, who has never been far from some kind of setback over the seven years since his previous Giro podium, revealed that the crashes he has suffered, often as a result of incredibly bad luck, have been the hardest thing to deal with since then, but hopes this result means that he’s turned a corner.
“The fact that I’ve had to leave grand tours without being able to show what I’m capable of has been difficult, but this really gives me some motivation. I feel like things are on the up,” he said.
“I was convinced that I could finish on the podium, as long as I didn’t have any crashes or any catastrophes like those I’ve had in the past. I knew that if I had the right condition I could be in contention for the podium. In the end, I’ve managed to do that, I’ve given all I could, and I’m happy.”
Landa’s program for the season was built around the Giro and the Tour de France, and it seems likely the Spaniard will stick with that decision.
“After this podium, the plan is that I’ll go to the Tour de France,” he said, although he admitted that there is a possibility that he might opt for the Vuelta a España instead. “We’ll talk about it this week and decide whether to focus on the Tour or on the Vuelta.”