Landa ded­i­cates win to Scar­poni

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PIANCAVALLO: Team Sky’s Mikel Landa paid trib­ute to late Ital­ian ri­val and friend Michele Scar­poni af­ter an­other gutsy ride in the moun­tains fi­nally paid out with vic­tory on the 19th stage of the Giro d’Italia Thurs­day.

Scar­poni, 37, was set to lead As­tana’s bid for podium glory at the 100th edi­tion fol­low­ing the in­jury-forced for­feit of Ital­ian team leader Fabio Aru.

But weeks be­fore what was to be one of his fi­nal Giro cam­paigns, Scar­poni was killed when he was hit by a van while on a train­ing ride for the three-week race.

Pic­tures and ban­ners com­mem­o­rat­ing the pop­u­lar Ital­ian have been om­nipresent through­out the race, which be­gan in Sar­dinia on May 5.

And days af­ter Scar­poni’s widow spurred Ital­ian Vin­cenzo Nibali (Bahrain) on to vic­tory on the ‘Queen’ moun­tain stage to Bormio, Landa, too, had Scar­poni on his mind as he soloed to vic­tory on the fi­nal sum­mit fin­ish at Piancavallo.

“I lost a friend just be­fore the Giro, and ev­ery day I think about him,” said Landa, who fin­ished a close sec­ond to Amer­i­can Te­jay Van Garderen (BMC) on Thurs­day’s 18th stage to Or­ti­sei in Val Gar­dena.

“This was a very nice way to com­mem­o­rate him.”

Landa’s win has soothed the pain of yet an­other un­der­whelm­ing cam­paign on the three-week Ital­ian race, although the classy Basque rider hinted he might be look­ing to pas­tures new.

When asked if he would still be with Team Sky next year, he said: “It’s pos­si­ble.”

Be­gin­ning the race as Sky’s co-leader along with Welsh­man Geraint Thomas, their pink jersey am­bi­tions ended on stage nine when both were among a group of rid­ers brought down by a po­lice mo­tor­cy­cle on the climb to Block­haus.

But while Thomas even­tu­ally pulled out due to in­juries suf­fered in the spill, Landa ploughed on in the hope of claim­ing a stage — and show­ing Sky he fully de­serves their full sup­port for a grand tour cam­paign by his own.

“I had a lot of prob­lems in the first week so I had to re­fo­cus and my aim was to get here to the fi­nal week in good con­di­tion, and try to win a stage,” added Landa.

“I tried very hard to win a stage this week, I came close yes­ter­day (Thurs­day) and fi­nally my ef­forts paid off.

“It shows that, if you still have the con­di­tion, you should never give up and to al­ways be­lieve in your­self.” AFP

EPA PIC

Team Sky’s Mikel Landa cel­e­brates win­ning the 19th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thurs­day.

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