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Landa: Tirreno-Adriatico podium has given me back my confidence

CARPEGNA ITALY MARCH 12 Mikel Landa Meana of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious competes during the 57th TirrenoAdriatico 2022 Stage 6 a 215km stage from Apecchio to Carpegna 746m TirrenoAdriatico WorldTour on March 12 2022 in Carpegna Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Mikel Landa putting in an attack on Monte Carpegna during the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Mikel Landa has said that his recent third place finish at Tirreno-Adriatico has given him renewed confidence ahead of a bid for the Giro d'Italia in two months' time.

The Spanish climber recovered from an opening time trial in which he finished 85th at 1:23 down on winner Filippo Ganna to end up third in San Benedetto del Tronto, beating the likes of Richie Porte, Jai Hindley, Thibaut Pinot, and Remco Evenepoel in the process.

Landa, who helmed a strong Bahrain Victorious squad featuring Damiano Caruso, Pello Bilbao, and final stage winner Phil Bauhaus at the race, told the Biciescapa (opens in new tab) podcast that taking a podium spot at Tirreno-Adriatico was an unexpected result for him.

"I had doubts and I didn't see myself as capable of being on the podium before the start," he said. "I did see myself as capable of a top 10, but not third. It's a tough race and there are a lot of days where it takes its toll on different riders. In the end I was solid, and I got on the podium.

"I'm very happy with that third place. It gives me back confidence, which I needed. If the legs go, they go; but if the head doesn't go everything gets a little complicated. Results like this week's help a lot. This way I can turn the page on last season and think about the future."

Landa started off his season with a quiet outing at the Vuelta a Andalucía before heading to Italy, where he grew into the race as the days passed, working his way up the rankings each day. After a ninth-place finish on the 'wall' stage in Bellante, he rounded out his race with third over the Monte Carpegna.

He and Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard, who beat him into second on the day and in the overall, were some way off the level of Pogačar, but the 32-year-old still had the beating of some top-quality GC challengers at the race. Landa said that the Slovenian is "unbeatable" in a head-to-head battle at the moment.

"Personally, I think he's the best I've seen in recent years; you can't see a weak point," Landa said. "He looks very at ease, he's fast, he climbs well, he does good time trials.

"It's difficult, but you have to be close every day and test him. In this case, we only had the chance on one day and he was far superior, but in other races whoever wants to try it will have to know that he has to put him in trouble more than one day.

"At the moment there is no weak point. Maybe isolating him from the team, leaving him alone and having several riders from the same team in front of him... But in the head-to-head right now he is unbeatable."

Following his positive outing at Tirreno-Adriatico, Landa will return to Italy in April to take on the Tour of the Alps as he builds up to the Giro d'Italia and then the Tour de France. He said that he feels "better than ever" after his week in Italy, and he'll hope for that sensation to continue in a months' time.

"I'm better than ever. This week has been great for me. I've enjoyed cycling as I haven't done for a long time. Last year was very hard; it took forever. Next, I'll do a high-altitude training camp, then I'll ride the Tour of the Alps and then the Giro. This week I've felt good, and it's recharged my batteries completely.

"In the last two Grand Tours I've raced I haven't managed to finish, but I see myself again with options and I'll fight to be on the podium," he said of the Giro.

"We can't forget that there are many 'cracks' [top riders] right now. There will be Carapaz, there will be López, Simon Yates... Rivals will not be lacking, even if Pogačar, Vingegaard and Roglič are not there. But yes, I'm aiming for the podium."

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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.