Giro d'Italia (st. 13)
Climbing duo from Movistar Team show potential in Ceresole Reale ascent, improve their GC standing in the Giro: Richard now in 6th, Mikel in 8th.
The Movistar Team rode with great strategy, attitude and climbing strength during the first of two big Alpine stages in the 2019 Giro d’Italia, a 195km trek from Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale over the demanding ascents of Colle del Lys (Cat-1), Pian del Lupo (Cat-2) and the finish in the Lago Serrù (Cat-1).
Mikel Landa and Richard Carapaz and his team-mates completed a prodigious final climb. Having sent two of their team-mates into the early break -including eventual stage winner Zakarin (TKA)- with Andrey Amador and Héctor Carretero, Landa launched a couple of strong accelerations with 16km left, which helped him open a gap over Roglic (TJV) and Nibali (TBM) -followed by Carapaz-, keep it alive alongside the Blues in a false flat section and improve its margin at the line to over 1’30” on the two race contenders.
Behind, a superlative Richard detected a lack of strength and cooperation in his rivals and made a quick progression to finish in 4th place -Mikel was 3rd, just 18″ behind the Carchi native- to climb onto sixth overall, with Landa in eighth. The gaps were even bigger against Miguel Ángel López (AST; 2’58” down), still-leader Jan Polanc (UAD; +3’19”) and Simon Yates (MTS; +3’35”).
The Giro’s Alpine stages will be completed -with a ‘piccolo Lombardia’ still left on Sunday- with a short (131km), yet really intense mountain effort on Sunday, over the cols of Verrayes (Cat-2), Verrogne (Cat-1), Truc d’Arbe (Cat-2) and the fearsome Colle San Carlo (Cat-1) before the finish in Courmayeur (Cat-3).
Mikel Landa: “It ended up being so, so hard at the end; I launched an attack from afar, and the altitude and the long effort made me reach the finish pretty much cooked (laughs). I’m really happy with my result, my legs and my team-mates’ fantastic job; I can’t thank them enough for all they did today. I saw some weakness on my rivals, they seemed to be in a pace I could match or improve into that final climb, and so I wanted to give it a try. This gives me morale and confidence to keep going. We’ll continue to attack until our last bit of energy runs out – let’s hope this lasts until Verona. It’s too soon currently to talk about any likely result; the Giro really changes easily from one day to the other, and we must continue on a day-by-day strategy. There’s another really tough stage tomorrow, and we’ll keep on trying. This just gives me confidence about it being possible.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto