Mikel Landa 3rd at Tirreno Adriatico
After seven hard-fought stages Mikel Landa got to wave from the podium at the end of the Tirreno Adriatico stage race: The Basque rider successfully defended his 3rd place in the overall standings in the concluding individual time trial. At the Paris-Nice stage race, Team Bahrain Victorious moved up to 2nd in the team classification on the final day.
At the mountaintop finish of Prati di Tivo, Mikel Landa had showed a solid performance and finished in 4th. But the Tirreno Adriatico race served up another challenge the next day with the stage from Castellalto to Castelfidardo. The local circuit around the finishing town featured a series of super steep climbs that the Italians call «muri». As if this were not enough of a challenge, the weather deteriorated drastically on Sunday afternoon: Temperatures were dropping to single digits, rain set in and a bitter wind added to the misery, sucking all the energy from the riders. These conditions turned the stage into a real battle of attrition with riders making it to the finish mostly on their own or in very small groups. For much of this stage Mikel Landa could rely on the support of his team mates, and this allowed him to finish in 9th place and to keep the time deficit to stage winner Mathieu van der Poel relatively small.
How hard Sunday’s stage really had been for all riders only showed the after: The teams with the strongest sprinters did not succeed to get back to six early attackers. In the last hour of racing, an untimely mechanical gave Mikel Landa a good scare, but Jan Tratnik and Fred Wright dropped back to pilot their team captain back into the main group. Before the conclusive, completely flat 10 kilometer individual time trial, Mikel Landa was positioned in 3rd in the overall standings, 30 seconds ahead of Egan Bernal. And while time trials are not known to be his strength, the Basque rider managed to hold on to 16 seconds of his advantage, thus securing his podium spot in the overall standings. With this result the climber showed that he’s well on track for the rest of the season. As the best rider of Team Bahrain Victorious in the time trial, Jan Tratnik clocked the 14th fastest time of the day.
Somewhat surprisingly the Paris-Nice stage race ended on a positive note as the conclusive stage had been shortened to less than 100 kilometers, finishing in Levens rather than in Nice. One day earlier, Gino Mäder had been caught and passed on the final meters by race leader Primoz Roglic, narrowly missing out on his first pro win. But Sunday’s conclusive stage turned into a nightmare for Roglic who crashed twice to lose the overall win that already seemed to be secured. Team Bahrain Victorious on the other hand made its presence felt in the finale, with first Gino Mäder attacking and then Dylan Teuns riding at the sharp end of the race to sprint to a 4th place in Levens. Jack Haig moved up to 7th in the overall standings, with Gino Mäder not far behind in 10th and in 5th of the young riders’ classification. In the team classification Team Bahrain Victorious finished this World Tour race in a strong 2nd place. This result goes to show that the team was performing very well in France despite not winning a stage.
56TH TIRRENO ADRIATICO, OVERALL STANDINGS:
1. Tadej Pogacar, SLO, in 26:36.14 hours
2. Wout Van Aert, BEL, + 1.03
3. Mikel Landa, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 3.57
79TH PARIS-NICE, TEAM CLASSIFICATION:
1. Astana-Premier Tech, KAZ, in 86:32.39 hours
2. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BAH, + 3.02
3. AG2R Citroën Team, FRA, + 7.12