Movistar Team (Italy) – Spanish climber victorious atop Sassotetto after intelligent, well-timed moved in Tirreno-Adriatico Queen stage’s finale; Mikel now 4th overall.
He didn’t have to wait more than nine racing days to notch up a victory in his new colours. Mikel Landa has already shown at Saturday’s stage four of the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico the world-class abitilies that earned him a contract with the Movistar Team. The Basque climber claimed the win atop the Sassotetto ski resort, following a really long (219km) day starting in Foligno, with a display of well-measured efforts in the final slopes of the climb.
It wasn’t until the final three kilometers when Mikel, always joined into the ascent by Jaime Rosón -following protection from Bennati, Arcas, Sütterlin, Oliveira and Amador, all the way to the climb-, launched his first acceleration. Landa quickly overtook Miguel Ángel López (AST), who had jumped off the front previously and suffered a mechanical while in the lead, and got to the front easily with three other riders: Rafal Majka (BOH), Fabio Aru (UAD) and Ben Hermans (ICA). Alongside the three, as well as New Zealander George Bennett (TLJ) -the only rider bridging back after the Basque’s accelerations-, Landa went for a finishing sprint that landed him a 14th victory in the pro scene, as well as scoring the Movistar Team’s seventh success of the 2018 season.
Landa now sits in 4th overall -20″ behind Damiano Caruso (BMC)- as Rosón, who momentarily concedes his white jersey as under-26 leader to Tiesj Benoot (LTS), is now in 11th place, 44″ back. The ‘Due Mari’ will be defined on Sunday’s slopes of Filottrano, a finish similar to Friday’s in the Muro di Trevi, together with Tuesday’s 10km ITT in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday. The telephone squad, though, will already leave the Italian event with a good taste after the first win of a new reference for the Unzué-led team.
Reaction / 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”.
Picture (c): Luca Bettini / BettiniPhoto.net