Mikel Landa: “I thought I could have lost more time”

Mikel Landa kicked off his 2016 Giro d’Italia campaign with a satisfying opening time trial effort on stage one in Apeldoorn. The Spaniard clocked a time of 11 minutes and 43 seconds across the flat 9.8-kilometre course in Holland, as the three-week showpiece got off to a spectacular start.

That effort saw Landa minimise his losses to a number of key general classification rivals, and tick off one his least favoured tests on the 21-stage parcours.

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) delighted his home crowd to take the victory by fractions of a second and pull on the first Maglia Rosa of the race. The Dutchman edged out Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) by less than a second, with the pair setting a time of 11:03.

With Dumoulin out of reach, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the next big GC contender home, 19 seconds down. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was another five seconds back, with Landa 40 seconds down on the new race leader.

Still firmly in the mix and looking forward to mountainous days to come, Landa told Eurosport post-stage: “It was difficult but I think my time is quite good. It’s what we expected. This was a short, flat and difficult stage. I thought I could have lost more time.

“I felt pretty good. It wasn’t my best day and now I’m pretty tired, but I’m happy with my result.”

Elia Viviani has his sights set on a pair of upcoming sprint stages and put in the 53rd best time (+36″), with Christian Knees shaking off a pre-race training crash to come in 56th with the same time.

Sport Director Dario Cioni was full of praise for the way Landa tackled the challenge, and again put the performance into context across the three weeks of the Giro.

“With Mikel we’re having a bit of a different start to usual,” he explained. “We all remember a few years ago we were here with Bradley (Wiggins) and he went into the pink jersey. Mikel is a completely different type of rider, so today was about limiting the time losses. He put in a good ride on a course that doesn’t suit him at all. Even the time loss to Nibali is fairly small. 20 seconds is in the lower range of what we might have expected – so he’s done well.

“The work he’s done during the winter has moved him forwards. It hasn’t made him a time trial specialist, but if you look at today it could have been a stage where he’d lost a minute to the winner. The average time of the winner was 53km/h and Mikel was pushing 50km/h in a lot of sections of the course. For a climber that’s pretty good!”