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Landa: I'm going to the Giro d'Italia to try and win

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 continued in top 10 on GC heading into final stage of Itzulia Basque Country (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Never one for half-measures, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) has confirmed that he will head to the Giro d’Italia this year with a clear plan of going for the win.

Third in the 2015 Giro d’Italia, and just eight seconds shy of a repeat podium position in the same race in 2019, Landa is already showing strong form on the climbs in his home race, the Itzulia Basque Country.

While Landa may well be a factor in a race in which he has won two stages in the past on Saturday’s showdown stage in Arrate, the Basque rider is currently in the final phases building for May, he told Cyclingnews.

“I’m definitely coming out of this much better than when I began it and I feel very motivated racing here at home,” Landa said before stage 5. “I’m going to grab any chance there is.

“But I’m aiming for the Giro d’Italia and so I’m not quite in top condition yet.”

Asked directly what his objectives were in the Giro d’Italia, Landa stated categorically, “The GC is what I want. The team has made sure I’ll have a strong squad around me and my idea is to win the race. Or at the very least to go for the podium.”

Possible names for the Bahrain Victorious lineup for the Giro, apart from Landa, currently include Pello Bilbao, who rode a very strong Giro d’Italia last year. Then there’s rumoured to be veteran Italian Damiano Caruso and Slovenian powerhouse Jan Tratnik, a winner of a Giro stage in 2020, and Matej Mohoric, also a stage winner in the trace back in 2018.

“For now I’m just thinking about the Giro only and the Giro,” Landa told Cyclingnews, when asked about what would follow that race. “Once it’s finished we’ll look at what happens with the Tour or whatever.”

That ‘whatever’ is perhaps explained by the fact that the Tour de France was on Landa’s programme but it would appear that he is now thinking of switching to doing the Vuelta a España as his second Grand Tour.

“The team and I are in discussions,” Landa recently told Basque newspaper Deia. “Basically we’ll think about it after the Giro. The only thing is 100 per cent certain is the Olympic Games.”

As for the Basque Country and the final day’s racing, Landa told Cyclingnews that with such a tight overall classification, “anything could happen.”

Having correctly predicted that stage 5 would be one where the GC favourites would sit tight and wait for Saturday, Landa remained in 10th place overall on GC and said the last day’s racing would be a very different story.

“It’s going to be flat out and the bad weather that is forecast is going to be important too, with so many climbs “there are a lot of descents and bends, too,“ Landa said referring the seven classified climbs, which in 111 kilometres essentially means not a metre of flat.

“But whatever the weather is, the favourites will have to handle it all the same,” he concluded. “And if they want to win, they’ll have to approach the race the same way.”