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Stage wins in all three grand tours and two podiums out of three made it a best-ever haul in 2021 for a resurgent Team Bahrain-Victorious in 2021.
The Bahrain-backed team is looking to spread the wealth across its crop of GC captains at the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España for the upcoming calendar. At a team camp this week in Spain, the team outlined its grand tour goals for the looming season.
Though the calendars are not yet finalized, the team’s GC stars are sounding ambitious for the new campaign.
“In my 14th season as a pro, I hope to continue the positive trend of the last two years in which I managed to win. I would like to keep raising my arms to the sky,” said Damiano Caruso, who won stages at the Giro and Vuelta, as well as finished second overall at the Giro in a video on TuttoBici. “Where, how, and when I still don’t know.”
“This year it happened at the Giro and the Vuelta, the second step of the final podium at the pink race was the icing on the cake,” said the 34-year-old Italian. “The 2022 edition includes two stages in my Sicily so it tempts me a lot. I know the streets very well, I would like to be there. It would be a nice gift for the fans, extra pride and motivation for me.”
Mike Landa wants ‘gift’ of good health
Mikel Landa was the odd man out in 2021. The Spanish star crashed out of the Giro in the first week and skipped the Tour. He bounced back to win the Vuelta a Burgos, but struggled at the Vuelta, and eventually abandoned.
“As a gift, I ask only for health and luck,” Landa said in a team interview. “2021 was terrible but in recent months I have removed all the junk I had in my body and I am confident that in 2022 I will be able to achieve the goal I set myself at the end of 2020 — to have fun and be competitive again.”
Also read: Mikel Landa tumbles out of Giro d’Italia
Landa continues to harbor ambitions of a grand tour victory, and he’s proven his consistency during 16 grand tour starts, capped by his lone grand tour podium with third in 2015 Giro.
“The Giro route is suitable for my characteristics, it has a lot of uphill and a few time trials, and I would like to compete in both the pink race and the Tour de France, but we haven’t defined the programs with the team yet,” Landa said, adding. “The same as always: winning a great lap.”
Jack Haig eyes even more at Tour de France
Jack Haig delivered a career-first grand tour podium with third in the hard-fought Vuelta in 2021. The 28-year-old Aussie hopes to build on that momentum.
Haig admitted he’s a fair-weather fan, and prefers to race in the heat of summer at the Tour or Vuelta, rather than the soggy and sometimes miserable spring conditions in the Italian mountains in May.
“The third place in the general of the Vuelta gave me the awareness of being able to fight with the best for the classification in the great laps, this year I will bet everything on the Tour de France,” Haig said. “I am not a lover of cold and rain, my last participation in the Giro dates back to 2020, and rather than racing in Italy in May, I prefer to show up at the start of Tour and Vuelta, races in which the weather is traditionally warmer.”
- French study finds spinal-cord injury drug in Tour de France riders
- Bahrain-Victorious seeks legal advice following study
The team’s superb season was marked by a controversial police raid on a team bus during the 2021 Tour. French studies later revealed the presence of a muscle relaxant that is not banned in hair samples of a few riders. A team was not named in the study, but Bahrain-Victorious spoke out to defend itself.