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