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Bahrain Victorious 'all-in' for Mikel Landa at Giro d'Italia

Itzulia Basque Country 2021 - 60th Edition - 4th stage Vitoria-Gasteiz - Hondarribia 189,2 km - 07/04/2021 - Mikel Landa (ESP - Bahrain Victorious) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2021
Mikel Landa at Itzulia Basque Country (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mikel Landa will spearhead Bahrain Victorious at the Giro d'Italia, with Pello Bilbao, Damiano Caruso, Gino Mäder, and Matej Mohorič among the riders to support his bid for the maglia rosa.

The in-form Bilbao, runner-up at the recent Tour of the Alps, could in theory be a Plan B as well as a domestique deluxe but the team are fully backing one man.

"There is one target, one goal. We’re all in for Mikel Landa, our GC [leader]," said head director Gorazd Štangelj.

Landa finished on the overall podium after winning two stages in 2015, and he placed fourth overall at the 2019 edition, won by his then Movistar teammate Richard Carapaz.

Last year, in his first season with Bahrain, Landa targeted the Tour de France and placed fourth overall, and heads to the Giro d'Italia with high ambitions after a strong start to the season, with a podium at Tirreno-Adriatico and top-10 at Itzulia Basque Country.

"I am pleased with my present shape," said Landa, who finalised his preparations at an altitude camp on Mount Teide. "I had great conditions and worked hard and very well. I’m feeling very good now, and I believe that I’m in perfect shape for my main objective of the season.

"I’ve always raced and performed quite well on Giro d’Italia.  Giro is a race that I know quite well, and I feel very confident with my teammates. I think that we have an outstanding team around me, so I believe it’s going to be a very, very good month."

As well as Bilbao, Landa will have support from the experienced Damiano Caruso, who himself finished in the top-10 while helping Landa at last year's Tour. The 33-year-old is in good form after finishing 7th at the UAE Tour and 9th at the recent Tour de Romandie.

Up-and-coming Mäder makes another step in his development after riding a Grand Tour for the first time at last year's shortened Vuelta a España, and after impressing earlier this season at Paris-Nice.

Mohorič is one of two Slovenians in the squad, with Jan Tratnik - who will target Saturday's short opening time trial - the other rider who'll be on home soil when the race crosses the border on stage 15. 

Further support in the mountains comes from Rafael Valls, while Yukiya Arashiro rounds out the squad with his all-round support.

"We are competitive on the flat stages, wind, mid-mountain, and high mountain stages with our roster," said Štangelj.

"We are going to the Giro with big ambitions and the highest goal, to race and take the overall. When we look at the experience of Mikel, Pello and Damiano, who have more than 30 Grand Tours in their legs, and our whole line-up has 32 Giro attendances; we have a legitimate reason to approach this mission of winning the Giro."

Bahrain Victorious for the Giro d'Italia

  • Yukiya Arashiro
  • Pello Bilbao
  • Damiano Caruso
  • Mikel Landa
  • Gino Mäder
  • Matej Mohorič
  • Rafael Valls
  • Jan Tratnik

As Features Editor, Patrick is responsible for Cyclingnews' long-form and in-depth output. Patrick joined Cyclingnews in 2015 as a staff writer after a work experience stint that included making tea and being sent to the Tour de Langkawi. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.