Mikel Landa finishes 3rd atop Picon Blanco
At the first mountaintop finish after the Covid pandemic had forced pro cycling to a lengthy break, Mikel Landa showed his climbing class: He kept up with the fastest rivals for a long time before opting to climb at his own pace when the attacks started with three kilometers to go to finish in 3rd thanks to a late surge.
After a break of more than four months pro cycling got going again at the Vuelta Ciclista a Burgos. Th five-day race in Northeastern Spain offers a balanced mix of two flat stages, a stage which a punchy uphill finish and two proper mountaintop finishes. Team Bahrain-McLaren lined up Pello Bilbao, Eros Capecchi and Damiano Caruso in support of Mikel Landa as the designated captain. For the sprint finishes, Mark Cavendish, Marco Haller and Heinrich Haußler formed an experienced team.
Right from the start and on the climb to Mirador del Castillo Mikel Landa showed that he’s on track with his preparations for the Tour de France as his prime goal of the season. Just like all others was caught out by the surprise attack of Austrian Felix Großschartner on the lower slopes of the ascent. On the way to the finish line, Landa managed to limit his losses to the day’s winner to 10 seconds, crossing the finish line in 5th. The second stage culminated in the expected bunch sprint, but a tight corner on the final kilometer brought down one rider and derailed the sprint of several others, amongst them Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Mark Cavendish, who finished in 13th.
With its final ascent measuring 8.5 kilometers in distance and an average gradient of 8.9 percents, the stage to the Picon Blanco was expected to shape the race’s overall standings. For a long time, ten early attackers took charge of things. When crosswinds provoked the formation of echelons with about fifty kilometers to go, Team Bahrain-McLaren was forced to deliver an extra effort to pilot Mikel Landa back to the group of favourites. The Basque rider kept up with his strongest rivals up to the three kilometers to go banner, but then Esteban Chaves attacked and the group of favourites fragmented. Mikel Landa chose to ride at his own pace and managed to claw back position by position to finish in 3rd. This effort also brought him into 3rd place in the overall standings.
42ND VUELTA CICLISTA A BURGOS
STAGE 3: SARGENTES DE LA LORE - PICON BLANCO, 150KM
1. Remco Evenepoel, BEL, in 3:59.09 hours
2. George Bennett, NZL, + 0.18
3. Mikel Landa, ESP/Team Bahrain-McLaren, + 0.32