Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) came to the Vuelta a Burgos with what he said were a fair number of questions about his underlying race condition, but he left with a second place overall and some strong climbing performances that, he says, have boosted his confidence considerably.
A former Burgos winner himself back in 2017, Landa was unable to follow stage winner Remco Evenepoel on Thursday’s summit finish to Picón Blanco. Meanwhile, on stage five’s finish in Lagunas de Neila, he was outpowered by Ivan Sosa (Ineos).
However, together with Evenepoel, the Basque rider was the most consistent climber of the race, taking third place on Thursday and second on Saturday, giving him a second place overall - and the overall victory in Burgos points competition.
Taken globally, Landa said, the results had lifted his morale, because during the lockdown, as with all the riders in the peloton, “we were all doubting a lot, we didn’t know what we could achieve when we finally got back to racing.”
“Personally, I’ve come through this well, because after such a long time without competing, to start at this level, I can be pleased about that.”
Landa thanked his team for their hard work throughout the week, with Gianpaolo Caruso turning in a notably strong performance on the final day. The Italian was far from being the only one to do so in what was an impressive overall performance by the Middle Eastern squad.
As for the Basque himself, on the last climb - where he won in 2011 - Landa made two major charges off the front with four and three kilometres to go, which allowed him to solo clear by almost 15 seconds at one point. Then when Evenepoel attacked himself 1500 metres from the finish, Landa closed the gap.
After all those efforts in the last kilometre , the Basque said, “I tried to stay with Sosa, but he made a really good move with 500 metres to go and I just couldn’t answer that attack.”
He had praise, too, for Evenepoel, saying, half-seriously “we’ll have to make the most of it before he gets too experienced, because in two or three years time he’s going to be impossible to beat. He’s impressive, he’s able to pull out the stops in all kinds of terrain.”
“But in my case, too, I’m pleased with my performance here. It’s a good sign for the Tour.”