Team Sky sports director Dario Cioni says that the team will now focus on opportunistic stage wins after Mikel Landa withdrew due to illness


Team Sky lacks a ‘plan B’ to race for the Giro d’Italia overall, it says, after its Spanish star Mikel Landa pulled out today in the Sestola stage due to stomach sickness.

Landa stopped and climbed into Sky’s car around 85 kilometres into the 10th stage from Campi Bisenzio, just one day after the rest day and two days after he performed well in stage nine’s time trial through Chianti.

“In the Giro, the GC is over, we had put everything into one basket,” Sports Director Dario Cioni said next to the Sky bus. “He was our big card, but we still have 10 days of racing and we need to find something new for the other guys. We will think about that tonight.

>>> Mikel Landa abandons the Giro d’Italia with illness on stage 10

“We still have options, Mikel Nieve, David Lopez, Sebastian Henao today were doing well. For the mountain stages, we have options. We also have Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan and Christian Knees, who can try on stages on the one into Bergamo. It’s not easy because we don’t have Elia Viviani who would’ve been our best second card for sprint stages. It’s not playing out how we had hoped because it had looked really good going into the rest day.”

David Lopez Garcia on stage ten of the 2016 Giro d'Italia

David Lopez and Mikel Nieve could provide options for Sky in the mountains

Landa rode better than many had expected in the 40.5-kilometre time trial through Tuscany and on the rest day Monday, sat eighth overall, within 10 to 15 seconds of the major contenders.

>>> Elia Viviani misses time cut in the Giro

Sky planned to field Sergio Henao as its plan B for the Giro before problems with his biological passport came up in late April. Another option appeared to be Nicolas Roche, but he lost time and now sits nine minutes behind leader Bob Jungels (Etixx–Quick-Step).

“For sure, if we had Sergio here he was going to be plan B. We can’t do a GC if [Roche] is that far down, and with Nieve being a late call, we didn’t ask him to do a GC,” added Cioni. “They have freedom now. It doesn’t happen very often in a team like this, we will have to race like the other teams, and it won’t be easy.”

Sky aimed to add Giro trophy in its collection of Tour de France winner vases – it counts three with one from Bradley Wiggins and two from Chris Froome. Richie Porte tried to give the team a win, but he could not start in 2014 with problems and in 2015, pulled out after a crash. Wiggins, who wore the pink jersey for Sky in 2010, tried to win in 2013, but pulled out midway with problems.

“We’ve done some good Giros. Rigoberto Urán finished second or third in the first year, Sergio was up there. Last year we had Leopold König, who was a plan B,” said Cioni, who placed fifth overall when he raced. “We haven’t been super lucky in the Giro, but we’ve won stages and had the pink jersey a bit. The big goal would be to wear the pink jersey on the 21st day.”

  • chris

    Plan B is stage wins. I think you are confusing this with the TDF when it’s possible that there is another well placed rider. No team (other than Italian riders) would play all of their main riders in the Giro before the TDF due to commercial and sponsorship reasons. It’s not football where you can substitute like for like!

  • grizzman

    You can’t take two GC contenders to a race other than maybe the TDF… You have to have a focussed plan A, not a ‘what if’ plan.. If a rider becomes Ill that’s just bad luck… Just like if you go looking for stage wins but your sprinter becomes ill or crashes… What would you do?.. Have Landa, Froome and Thomas racing together just in case one of them had a problem?.. It’s not a big deal.. Plan A scuppered by illness… go for stage wins instead.

  • supong

    So Team Sky has become free riders….what a freedom. Can do anything they like. Go on guys.

  • John Senior

    They’ve got a team at California – another one prepping for the TDF. Henau was a sound Plan B until he had to be withdrawn. Only Nieve and Roche could possibly have stepped in and neither could be seen as a serious contender. Good that Sky have been honest about it and that riders as good as Deignan and Roche will get a chance to go for stages – and you shouldn’t rule out The Bos , Nieve, Lopez and Henau when it comes to the mountains!!

  • Timpacker

    I complete agree.. It’s all right having a big sponsor mega money a potential Tour de France winner but no back up plan for other races seems a bit lacking in common sence

  • poisonjunction

    After all these years Sky still haven’t learned about ‘eggs and baskets’, and Plan B’s . . . . someone needs retraining ‘an’ it aint the riders’!