Team Sky’s Giro d’Italia started as planned, if not better, in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn. Their classification leader Mikel Landa says that he thought that he would lose more time to start rival Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in the opening 9.8-kilometre time trial.
Landa placed 67th at 11-43 minutes, 40 seconds behind stage winner and new leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). To Nibali, who rode 11-22, he lost 21 seconds.
“It was good for me,” Landa told Cycling Weekly. “I didn’t lose so much, I expected to lose more, maybe around 40 seconds. This was good for me.”
“We never thought we were going to win the stage today with Mikel, we were realistic,” Sky sports director Dario Cioni explained.
“It was how we thought. He thought he’d lose more and I thought less. I said he’d lose 15 to 20 seconds, so it was in line with what we thought. Out of all three time trials in this Giro d’Italia, this one could’ve been the worst one for him based on the type of effort needed. In my opinion, he did a great time trail and took advantage of the work that he did from January through the start of the Giro.”
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Landa lost four minutes to Alberto Contador in the long time trial last year when he was racing for team Astana. Sky, since signing him, have worked with him to be ready for the Giro and in the second week, its 40.5-kilometre time trial through Chianti’s hills.
“I don’t think he’ll gain time in the Chianti time trial on Nibali, but it will be in line with today. Maybe he will lose 20 seconds again, but over 50 minutes that is better than 20 seconds over 11 minutes,” added Cioni.
“Clearly, we are trying to limit our losses in the first half, and maybe in the first half we will even be able to even gain on some tricky stages. If in Chianti he is still there in the classification, we are in a good spot.”
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Landa helped team-mate Fabio Aru place second last year, won two mountain stages and clawed back one minute on Contador to place third overall. This year, he trained for Chianti and to win the Giro overall in the mountainous third week.
As a good sign, he left behind Nibali and his gang of Astana team-mates to win the Giro del Trentino stage race two weeks ago.
“The Chianti stage will be a different effort than today’s. Today was for an explosive rider, and that’s not me,” added Landa. “I’m not sure how much I will lose in Chianti, but I’m feeling comfortable after today. Then, I’ll make my attacks in the climbs.”