It is perhaps premature to say that Mikel Landa’s Giro d’Italia is over before it really began but the Basque’s start to the race has left the Movistar team leader severely on the back foot after just eight kilometres of racing.
Landa lost 1:07 to stage winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and finished 30 seconds behind the bulk of the other top contenders.
He didn't look particularly comfortable at the start of the time trial as he rolled down the start ramp and seemed to have a tough time on the flat 5.5 kilometre section that lead to the San Luca climb.
However Landa then failed to make an impact on his natural terrain – the steep climb up to the Santuario. In a race where, according to team sources, Landa was supposedly in the form of his life, this was a stinging defeat and time loss.
Not surprisingly, Landa did not stop at the finish area but looked back on his performance after riding back to the Movistar team bus in the centre of Bologna.
“I didn’t start as I wanted to,” he said. “And I didn’t feel good in the final part of the stage. The whole time trial ended up feeling extremely long. I should have done it better. The good thing is that this has only just begun, I will have to be very aggressive in the coming days.”
In what is hardly a promising start, it was noticeable that Landa’s teammate Richard Carapaz, in theory the support rider for the Spaniard, actually finished ahead of the Movistar leader. Carapaz, fourth overall last year, claimed a respectable 14th, 47 seconds behind Roglič.
Landa recently finished second on the toughest stage of the Vuelta a Asturias and was seventh at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. But his recent withdrawal from Asturias immediately afterwards hardly boded well for the Basque rider and his uneven performances of the last 18 months now appear to be continuing in the Giro d’Italia, at least for now.
Others who unexpectedly lost considerable amounts of time in the GC battle included Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), a former top five Giro d’Italia finisher and stage winner who finished a hefty 1:20 down in 53rd place.
Elsewhere, Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-QuickStep) lost 46 seconds, Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) lost 50 seconds, Team Ineos rookie Pavel Sivakov lost 1:01 and Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data) lost 1:12.
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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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