For much of the stage, Landa had opted to go for a long distance break, charging away in an early move of 23 and then attacking more than 100 kilometres from the finish with Omar Fraile (Dimension Data). The two-up attack died at the foot of the day's final climb, the Monte Fumaiolo. Fraile then formed part of a counter-move that ended up in victory, but Landa steadily shipped time all the way to the finish.
With his GC options up in smoke since the big crash on the Blockhaus stage, Landa explained afterwards that what he had tried to do with Fraile after such a fast start "was a bit crazy, but there wasn't much collaboration in that first group, when they're so big there never is. So we went for it."
Fraile's initial aim was to pick up points in the king of the mountains competition, Landa said, but the breakaway gained more time than anticipated, before the first chase group behind accelerated hard to catch them.
"When we got to the bottom of the final climb and the gap was closing, Omar asked me 'how are you doing, shall we go flat out or wait?' But I was not able to give it any more throttle, I didn't have any choice. By the point when they caught us, I was exhausted and dropped back. But I'm pleased he's won!"
Referring to how badly the Blockhaus crash had affected his morale, not to mention causing him a leg injury that had needed an all-clear from a hospital on the rest-day, Landa added, "I've got to look for some kind of reason to stay motivated, because it felt like all of my hard work in the first part of the race was wrecked that day.
"It's not easy to be here in the race. We'll just have to take it on the day by day, doing what my body tells me I'm capable of doing. Tomorrow [Thursday] I have no idea at all what I might be able to do!"
His body, in any case, seems to be responding much better than he thought would be possible after the initial crash and injury, which was initially so painful that he has not had a proper massage in that leg since last Sunday. "I was worried about today's stage, with so many climbs, but I've got through it, so that's good," he reflected. "It's a question of looking for a reason to stay here in this Giro, something that appeals to me."
As for the GC battle, which Landa can now view objectively, the Basque painted a perhaps overly bleak picture of Dumoulin's chances of holding the lead until Milan.
"There's a long way to go and I really don't think he'll be able to defend the pink jersey, because he's not a born climber, and everything from here to the finish is mountains," Landa argued. "Nairo [Quintana] and Vincenzo [Nibali] are my favourites. On top of that, Movistar have Andrey Amador, who's another option. I think he [Dumoulin] will lose it."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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