Mikel Landa says he is treating the remainder of the Giro d'Italia as a series of 'three one-day classics', as he looks to salvage something from a race that has veered off script for the second time in two years.
Landa, who abandoned the Giro through illness last year, came down in the motorbike crash on the run to Blockhaus on stage 9, losing 27 minutes and all hopes of a podium finish or pink jersey.
Since then he has turned his attention to stage wins and, after his legs failed him in the breakaway on stage 11, he has come increasingly close, with third on the Oropa summit finish, followed by an agonisingly close second place to Vincenzo Nibali on Tuesday's queen stage, where he was at the front of the race over both ascents of the Stelvio. He took the blue king of the mountains jersey for his efforts but it was scant consolation and his frustration was clear as he bashed his handlebars at the finish line.
After a quiet day in the peloton on stage 17, Landa is prepared to go all-out in the three remaining stages ahead of the final-day time trial in Milan, all of which take place in the mountains.
"There are three days [of opportunities] and it starts tomorrow [today]," he said on Eurosport after Wednesday's stage. "Three days left and we're going to race them as if they were one-day races. We have to try and win, and grab some sort of reward for ourselves."
Landa leads the mountains classification on 124 points in what has become a Spanish battle, with Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez second with 108 points and Dimension Data's Omar Fraile third on 89.
Thursday's stage 18 in the Dolomites is the most important day for the blue jersey hopefuls to get up the road, with the Pordoi (cat 1), Valaparola (cat 2) and Grodnerjoch (cat 2) passes in the opening portion of the race, followed by a first-category ascent towards the finish in Ortisei.
For Landa, though, a podium finisher and two-time stage winner at the Giro, the blue jersey provides little motivation in itself.
"The maglia azzurra is nice but it's difficult to defend it," he told Cyclingnews in Bormio. "I'll perhaps try to win another stage and doing that I might get to keep the jersey anyway. That seems like the best strategy. I'll keep trying to win a stage all the way to Milan."
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