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Landa’s win bodes well for Giro

Building his fitness toward the Giro d'Italia, GC favorite Mikel Landa seems to be recovering from injury with a win Thursday in Italy.

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A victory in March could mean flowers in May, at least that’s what Mikel Landa (Movistar) is hoping for.

The banged-up Basque rider, who broke a clavicle in his first race of the 2019 season, scored a morale-boosting victory Thursday at stage 2 at Coppi e Bartali in Italy.

He nipped Mitchelton-Scott’s Lucas Hamilton at the end of a hilly 140km stage to Sogliano al Rubicone.

The five-day Italian event might be a relatively minor race, but it means that Landa is on the mend ahead of the Giro d’Italia.

“I’ve come back from some serious injuries,” Landa said. “After fracturing my collarbone in the Mallorca Challenge, it really took a lot to come back. Last year ended the same and to return was also complicated. Now, thanks to this win, I’ve had things a little smoother and it gives me confidence. I know that I am on the right way and that I can do a good Giro.”

Landa, 29, has been dogged by a string of injuries going back to last year’s Tour de France. A heavy fall in the cobbles hampered his performance in July. Then he crashed again badly at the Clásica San Sebastián, suffering a back injury.

After his opening-day crash at the Mallorca Challenge, he was a surprise starter (and finisher) at Milano-Sanremo, where the long distance was a painful yet effective way to jump back into racing.

Landa will wrap up the final three days of racing in Coppi e Bartali, and will return to Spain to race at the GP Miguel Indurain and Iztulia Basque Country before the Ardennes classics.