Mikel Landa (Movistar) showed his mettle with a stinging attack on the final climb to Leukerbad during stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse on Wednesday. While the effort was ultimately unsuccessful, the Spaniard said it showed that his race fitness was coming back after two months away from competition.
"I'm really happy because this shows I'm on track to do well in July," Landa said. "I had spent many weeks without racing, and being able to compete for a win on day five after coming back is a good sign."
The Movistar man opted to hit out on the long category 1 ascent to Leukerbad with 6.8km to go, and quickly opened up a gap, putting pressure on race leader Stefan Kung (BMC Racing) - who was quickly dropped, leaving teammate Richie Porte to pursue the yellow jersey.
"It was a somewhat crazy stage. The pace was furious into the first two hours of racing, because we didn't get a break forming. In the finale, when the BMC team was left with no riders to keep pushing, I tried to attack from afar."
He went across to EF-Drapac's Hugh Carthy and Francois Bidard (AG2R La Mondiale), then quickly left them behind. A stiff headwind and relatively steady gradient favoured the chasing group, however, and Landa was reeled in as the sprint wound up, with Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) powering past for the win and Landa rolling in outside the top 10.
"It was really, really sad to come just 200 meters short. It makes you feel really bad, but those final kilometers had strong headwinds and there was nothing I could do not to be caught," he said.
With two more mountain stages, one sprinters' day and an individual time trial still to come, Landa expects to see more aggression in the coming stages.
"There will be two other tough mountain stages tomorrow and on Friday," Landa said. "We'll see who dares there to go for the win, especially those who are also targeting the Tour."
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