Mikel Landa: ‘It’s a dream to win the Giro d’Italia’

Bahrain-Victorious star shakes off crashes, mishaps to rise to the top at Blockhaus: 'I'd love to grab the pink jersey, and it would be a dream to have it, even if just for one day.'

Photo: LUCA BETTINI/AFP via Getty Image

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Mikel Landa is so far avoiding the traps and mishaps that can derail any grand tour bid and rolls into the second half of the Giro d’Italia poised for more.

The Bahrain-Victorious captain rode with the best Sunday at the first major date at Blockhaus, and reconsidered his GC options at the Giro’s halfway point.

“It’s a dream to win the Giro,” Landa said during a rest day press conference. “I’ve been for years dreaming of it, working on it, fighting for it, but I’ve always come up against rivals stronger than me, or traps along the way.”

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Going into Tuesday’s transition stage, Landa is right in the thick of the fight for pink.

He was fourth at the line at Blockhaus, where he emerged as a strong podium candidate when he marked an acceleration from Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Romain Bardet (Team DSM).

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. He also crashed a second time and later had some equipment problems.

Luckily for him, Landa was not injured, and was able to continue. He then stood up in the pedals, and countered when Carapaz dropped the hammer.

It was only Landa and Bardet who could respond, though some other riders later regained contact on the upper reaches of the Blockhaus climb, it’s clear Landa is on good form.

“Sunday was at the same time a good day and a bad day,” Landa said. “It could have been a disaster, but in the end, it turned out well for me. The falls impacted me a bit and perhaps I wasn’t as aggressive as other moments.”

He starts Tuesday’s transition stage seventh overall at 29 seconds back, and just 15 seconds off a virtual podium spot.

“Up until now, things are going well, and this could be the year,” Landa said on Monday’s rest day. “Of course I can win. I am staying with the best in the mountains and there’s not a lot of time trials. I’d love to grab the pink jersey, and it would be a dream to have it, even if just for one day.

“I am happy, because the GC is not closed yet, and my options remain intact.”

This is Landa’s seventh career Giro start. He was third in 2015, a result that catapulted him into the peloton’s elite. Since then, he’s finished fourth, 17th and DNF’d in four subsequent Giro starts.

With a string week of transition stages stacked up across the Giro’s second week, Landa needs to avoid trouble and save his energy for the next major stages coming up this weekend.

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