Mikel Landa was the brunt of social media jokes Wednesday when his Bahrain-McLaren team rode themselves into the ground en route to the Col de la Loze only to see their captain not have the legs to finish it off.
“We will have to analyze how we did,” said Landa, who climbed from fifth to fourth overall Saturday. “It was a very intense Tour this year. I am not leaving with a bad taste in my mouth.”
Landa’s Bahrain-McLaren kept pushing in the Alps Thursday to nudge Landa even higher on GC, and with Miguel Ángel López (Astana) slipping from third to sixth against the clock Saturday, Landa rides into Paris just off the podium for the second time of his career.
With Enric Mas (Movistar) moving up from sixth to fifth, the Spanish contingent will leave the Tour satisfied with a hard-fought race. Movistar also wins the team classification for the fifth time in six years, though no Spanish rider won a stage.
Mas came through in his first Tour as a team captain. Though he was never a threat for overall victory, he had the legs to endure the final week, and will leave the Tour with fifth overall.
“It was a day filled with emotions,” said Mas, leading in his first year at Movistar. “We were waiting for the arrival of Landa. I thought I had lost my fifth place, but in the end, both of us ended up moving up one spot on GC.”
Mas, Marc Soler and the likes of Iván García Cortina (who joins Movistar in 2021) are seen as the future of Spanish cycling.
Spain is hungry for a new winner. Since Alberto Contador last won the Tour de France in 2009 — his 2010 victory was disqualified — Spain has only hit the podium on three occasions since. Samuel Sánchez rose to second overall in 2010 following the disqualifications of Contador and Denis Menchov. Joaquín Rodríguez was third in 2013, and Alejandro Valverde hit third in 2015.
Landa matched his career-best — he was fourth by 1 second to third-place Romain Bardet in 2017 — and Mas hit a new high mark following his debut of 22nd in 2019. Valverde dipped from 10th to 12th in Saturday’s TT,
“It’s a proud day for Spanish cycling,” Mas said. “Considering the year we’ve had, we have to be satisfied. I leave pretty satisfied with my performance. Next year, I’d like to be ever stronger in the Tour, and I’d prefer not to lose time at the first hard stages.”
Mas, Valverde and Landa will all race the world championships next weekend. Mas and Valverde also line up for the Vuelta a España in October, while Landa will skip the Spanish grand tour.