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Mikel Landa: ‘When Pogačar accelerated, it was out of this world’

Basque climber looks poised to finish on final podium at Tirreno-Adriatico after hanging close behind Pogačar's acceleration.

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SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRENTO, Italy (VN) — Riders were buzzing Sunday morning in the wake of Tadej Pogačar’s searing attack to win Saturday’s decisive stage at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Remco Evenepoel said he needed “another 30 to 40 watts” to stay close.

Jonas Vingegaard said, “I didn’t even think about trying to go with him when he attacked. He is just incredible and so much better than everyone else.”

Also read: Pogačar pummels field at Tirreno-Adriatico 

Richie Porte predicted Pogačar is so good he’ll “win everything for the next five years.”

Another rider who had a front-row view Saturday to Pogačar’s searing surge was Mikel Landa.

“Pogačar is very strong, and when he accelerated, it was out of this world,” Landa said.

‘Starting the new season like this gives me confidence’

Just riding Pogačar’s coattails can take you far.

Landa finished third Saturday and bumped up to third overall going into Sunday’s final stage at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Landa and Bahrain-Victorious tried to throttle the race on two climbs up Monte Carpegna on Saturday, and did the job on everyone except Pogačar and Vingegaard. Porte was there, but didn’t want to take unnecessary risks on the descent, and Enric Mas crashed on the treacherous descent.

Landa narrowly avoided going down with Mas, and rode to a morale-boosting result for the long-suffering Spanish climber who’s had his shares of up and downs the past few seasons.

“I’m delighted with this stage’s result and moving onto the GC podium, too,” Landa said. “We attacked in the first ascent because we knew that earlier we started tougher the race would be. I ended last season not in a good way and starting this new year like this is something that makes me very confident.”

Also read: Landa still believes he can hit grand tour podium

Landa, 32, still holds out hope of landing on a podium in a grand tour this year.

Landa confirmed to VeloNews last month he’s targeting both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, and the strong showing this week at Tirreno-Adriatico against last year’s first two on the 2021 Tour podium is a good sign.

“I hope to stay healthy and give the maximum this year,” Landa told VeloNews. “I’ve been up there in the grand tours before, so why not again?

“If the condition is there and the luck as well, I’d like to stand on another grand tour podium again.”

Landa saw bad luck in 2021, and crashed out of the Giro d’Italia early. He bounced back to win Vuelta a Burgos but also abandoned the Vuelta. After a quiet winter, Landa is confident he return to the top of the peloton this year.

His strong showing at Tirreno-Adriatico is a good sign.

The way Pogačar is racing these days, a podium might be all anyone can realistically hope for.