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BLOCKHAUS, Italy (VN) — It’s just the kind of thing that usually takes out Mikel Landa.
Despite riding high and being in the form of his life, an oil-slicked road at the wrong moment at the wrong time could spoil the dreams of any top pro.
But this time Landa dodged the bullet. The Basque climber survived a potentially costly crash in Sunday’s showdown on the Blockhaus, and then rose to the challenge.
“In the end, the stage was good for us, despite some crashes, not only for me but also for Pello and Buitrago,” Landa said. “But I was in the front with the best of the day, which is a good sign.”
Landa is known for his bad luck and for his great form, but also for his voodoo magic, his duende, his Landismo. He had it Sunday in spades on the Giro’s first major mountain finish.
After a string of bad luck, Landa saw luck turn his way Sunday.
It’s not exactly clear when or when, but on a sweeping left-hander in the front half in Sunday’s stage, Landa went down.
— Alvento – Italian Cycling Magazine (@alventomagazine) May 15, 2022
Race radio crackled that something was wrong, but it was only later a series of photos revealed that Landa slid out on a corner like he was sliding into third base.
Landa fell hard on his left side, with his arms stretched out to catch the weight of the fall.
Luckily for him, this time Lady Luck shined on his side. Landa was not injured, and was able to continue. He then stood up in the pedals, and countered when Richard Carapaz dropped the hammer.
It was only Landa and Romain Bardet who could respond, though some other riders later regained contact on the upper reaches of the Blockhaus climb, it’s clear who the three strongest riders are.
“We are still there,” Landa said. “Everything is more clear, and we see which riders are strong. We’ve got more stages to go through, and we will see day by day.”
Landa moved up six places in GC to seventh overall, and crossed the line in 4th place. After not finishing a grand tour in 2021 due to crashes and bad luck, perhaps this is a sign that Landa is on the bounce back.
The 191km stage was the hardest of the Giro so far, with more than 5,000 vertical meters. Despite the Landa luck, Pello Bilbao and Santiago Buitrago also crashed on the day.
For a rider like Landa, who’s come close to some big things in cycling only to barely miss them, Sunday’s near-miss could be the harbinger of better things to come in the second half of the Giro.
Landismo lives — anything is still possible in this Giro.