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VERONA, Italy (VN) — Before the start of the final stage of the Giro d’Italia, Movistar sport director Max Sciandri estimated Mikel Landa needed an additional 15 seconds to defend third place.
Sciandri was off by half that. Landa posted a solid time trial in the 17km course into Verona, but it wasn’t enough to keep third. The Spaniard was bumped off the final podium by Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) by just eight seconds. Landa said he leaves the Giro happy but not bitter for missing out on another grand tour podium.
“I really fought. I gave everything I had and I couldn’t have done anything better,” Landa said. “I am leaving satisfied because I gave everything I had. It was a difficult challenge. I gave everything, but a specialist like Roglic [beat] me. This is sport.”
The final-day bump down was a bitter pill for Landa, who came into this Giro as outright team leader at Movistar only to be usurped inside the team bus by eventual winner Richard Carapaz.
Landa remained loyal and the team rallied behind Landa over the weekend to try to pull him to the stage victory and podium in Saturday’s stage. Pello Bilbao (Astana) ruined the script yesterday and Roglic upended him Sunday.
With the loss, that means Landa has lost two grand tour podiums by just nine seconds. He gave up Sunday’s podium spot to Roglic by eight seconds and a ceded a podium spot to Romain Bardet in the 2017 Tour de France by just one second.
“Well, eight seconds is something. I also lost a Tour de France podium by one second,” Landa said. “I prefer to lose by eight instead of just one!”
Landa put himself on the back foot early in this Giro when he ceded a lot of time in the opening two time trials. When Carapaz was stronger into the decisive San Marino time trial, the team could see that the Ecuadorian had better legs.
Landa helped Carapaz defend the pink jersey over the decisive battle on the Mortirolo on Tuesday. He had freedom to move to try to gap Roglic, and pulled ahead Saturday, only to see the gap fall short in Sunday’s time trial.
Landa leaves the Giro without a stage win or a podium, but Movistar wins the team classification and its first grand tour since the 2016 Vuelta a España with Nairo Quintana.
“I am a bit disappointed for my fourth place,” Landa said. “I am happy for Richie’s [Carapaz’s] win and for the team classification also. If every stage I could have gone a half-second faster, I would have been third. At the beginning of the race, you never know what you will need at the end of the race.”Landa admitted that he needs to work harder on his time trialing and even push harder on the climbs.
With his future remaining undecided — rumors have him headed to Bahrain-Merida — Landa will now turn his attention toward the Tour de France.
Just days after Quintana said he would be outright leader of Movistar for the Tour, Landa quickly reminded everyone he will race with GC ambitions.
“I will have my chance,” he said. “I think we will have two leaders and I will fight for the GC.”