Mikel Landa took his first win for Movistar Team at Sarsano Sassotetto ski resort on the Queen stage of Tirreno-Adriatico today which has moved him into fourth overall. The 28 year-old paid tribute to his former team-mate Michele Scarponi as he crossed the line.
It wasn’t until the final three kilometres of the 219-kilometre stage from Foligno when Landa launched his first acceleration. He quickly overtook Miguel Ángel López (Astana), who had jumped off the front previously and suffered a mechanical while in the lead.
Landa went clear with three other riders: Rafal Majka (BORA – hansgrohe), Fabio Aru (UAE-Team Emirates) and Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) and the only other rider to bridge across after the Basque’s accelerations was George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).
Landa won the sprint finish ahead of Majka and Bennett and it was his fourteenth professional victory. He now sits in fourth overall, 20″ behind Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing). Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) is in second overall with Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) third.
The race continues tomorrow with a 178-kilometre stage from Castelraimondo to Filottrano with the riders facing a climb on each of the three finishing laps.
Mikel Landa: “The team was phenomenal all day – we’ve shown we’ve got a strong roster here. The guys protected Rosón and myself really well all day before the finishing climb. We knew there could be some riders who would go on an attack from further down the climb, but we chose to let other teams work a little bit – it was a long climb, and jumping from so far from the finish could be suicidal. Sky had the numbers at the front, and we waited for the right moment to make my move. With less than 4km to go, I decided to go after the riders who were leading – if it didn’t stick, we still had Rosón behind. The strategy was perfect in the end.
“This win confirms I’m on the right path. I knew I was in good condition, but it’s always important to make it count, and claiming a success with your new team so early in the season always helps for things to go easier and gain some confidence. It’s even more special for me to get it here, near the home of my friend Michele Scarponi. That gesture, pointing to heaven, was for him. He’s always with us and we’ll always remember him. The GC? We’ll have to keep on fighting until the end, but I prefer not to really look at it and go day-by-day”