Mikel Landa put in a better-than-expected performance in the 2016 Giro d’Italia’s stage nine time trial on Sunday to lose only seven seconds to overall rival Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and gain time on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Prior to the stage, the Team Sky leader had ridden the route and studied it on video to make sure that he was familiar with the roads from Radda to Greve in Italy’s Chianti region. The homework looks to have paid off.
All of the overall favourite sat high in the general classification were at a disadvantage on the stage after heavy rain rendered the road wet and slippery. Landa, Nibali and Valverde used their experience to keep a cool head and stay upright to finish safely.
Prior to the race, Landa had ear-marked the long 40.5-kilometre time trial as one where he would lose time against his rivals. But having emerged from the test against the clock with his GC aspirations unscathed, the fight will now be taken into the Dolomites and Alps during the race’s concluding two weeks.
Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) won the stage with Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) retaining the overall lead going into Monday’s rest day.
It’s Landa’s first Grand Tour with Team Sky having signed to the British team from Astana for the 2016 season.