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Mikel Landa (Astana) atop Monte Bondone.
Basque climber ready to work for Scarponi at the Giro d'Italia
Mikel Landa took advantage of Astana's numerical advantage on the climb of Monte Bondone on the final stage of the Giro del Trentino to attack alone, pass fellow pure climber Louis Meintjes and go on to win just the second race of his professional career.
The Basque climber will play a key domestique role for Astana teammates Michele Scarponi and Fabio Aru at the upcoming Giro d'Italia but earned his moment of glory with a strong ride in the final part of the 19km climb up to the ski slopes on Monte Bondone.
"When there was 10km to go, no team was really controlling the race and so Scarpa (Scarponi) told me to give it a go. I went with Pellizotti and Meintjes and then the MTN-rider got away alone, I went after him, got across to him and dropped him." Landa explained in the stage winner's press conference, mixing Spanish with words of Italian he has picked up from Scarponi and Aru after a recent two-week training camp at altitude.
Landa rode with the Euskaltel-Euskadi between 2011 and 2013 and moved to the Astana squad after the Basque team dissolved. He won a stage in the Vuelta a Burgos but only collected a series of placing in 2012 and 2013.
He is happy to play a support role at the Giro d'Italia for Astana.
"We're all going to work for Scarpa," he said.
"I'll start the Giro ready and motivated to help the team win the pink jersey. If I get a chance I'll try and win a stage too but for now I'm happy to have won here."