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Mikel Landa fights back into Giro d’Italia title contention

Ilnur Zakarin wins Stage 13

Over the last two stages of the Giro d’Italia, Mikel Landa has gained back over 2:00 on Primož Roglič and Vincenzo Nibali, and all three put more time into Simon Yates on Friday’s first high mountains stage. Ilnur Zakarin (Russia/Katusha) earned the stage win, and propelled himself into third place on GC, jumping up nine spots. Jan Polanc (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) clung tenaciously to the pink jersey.

The Course
The first day in the Alps was 196-km in length and featured three climbs:
Cat 1 Col de Lys – 13.7 km of 6.8 percent, cresting at the 54.6 km mark
Cat 2 Pian Del Lupo – 14.5 km of 7.1 percent, cresting at the 134.5 km mark
Summit finish Lagu Serru, 27.4 km of 5.4 percent, with the final 14.6 km at an average of 5.1 percent, the last 4.6 km of that at 9.4 percent, and the concluding 300 metres at 10 percent.

Another Big Breakaway

As on Thursday, Friday saw an enormous breakaway skip up the road. Twenty-six riders escaped just before the Col de Lys and among them were the King of the Mountains leader Gianluca Brambilla and the former wearer of Brambilla’s sharp blue jersey, Giulio Ciccone, both from Trek-Segafredo. Ciccone took back his jersey on the road by cresting Lys first.

With fellows like Brambilla and Ciccone’s teammate Bauke Mollema, Andrey Amador and Zakarin in the escape, the UAE-Team Emirates-led peloton kept it in check.

Pian Del Lupo

Before the race could get to the summit finish, fireworks were expected on Pian Del Lupo. The breakaway had a 2:00 gap at its foot.

Angel Lopez and Pello Bilbao attacked from the peloton, immediately streamlining the group and dropping Polanc. Once more, Roglič was isolated. And again, Ciccone took the maximum KOM points.

Lagu Serru

The reduced Zakarin break’s lead over the favourites group was under a minute when the Lagu Serru began. The pink jersey managed to come back to Roglič, Vincenzo Nibali, Lopez, Landa and Simon Yates before the big battle.

A quintet clipped off the front of the breakaway with 24 km remaining. It was apparent that the favourites group had slowed down, allowing the gap to open again. Up front, Mollema, Amador and Zakarin bridged to the quintet.

Landa, on the attack with Angel Lopez on Thursday, dashed up the road with 16 km to go. When Roglič and Nibali lit out after him, both Polanc and Simon Yates fell away. Lopez suffered an untimely flat. Landa had two teammates to pace him.

Domenico Pozzovivo laboured to bring Roglič, Nibali and a few others back to Landa. At the pointy end of the race Zakarin struck with 5 km to go, only Mikel Nieve (Spain/Mitchelton-Scott) able to hold his wheel. Roglič and Nibali couldn’t lose one another and finished 7th and 8th on the day.

Zakarin popped Nieve in the final kilometres to take his second career Giro stage win. Landa came in +1:20 of the Russian and 1:37 faster than Roglič and Nibali. Movistar’s Spaniard was almost five minutes behind the Slovenian after the Stage 9 time trial and is now only 2:42 in arrears. Fifth place on GC, Nibali will have to keep an eye on Zakarin and fourth place Mollema, and Landa will no longer be given a long leash by anyone in the top-5.

There are more mountains on tap for Saturday, but the final climb to the finish in Courmayeur is a mild one.

2019 Giro d’Italia Stage 13
1) Ilnur Zakarin (Russia/Katusha) 5:34:40
2) Mikel Nieve (Spain/Mitchelton-Scott) +0:35
3) Mikel Landa (Spain/Movistar) +1:20

2019 Giro d’Italia GC
1) Jan Polanc (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) 54:28:59
2) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) +2:25
3) Ilnur Zakarin (Russia/Katusha) +2:56
4) Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) 3:06
5) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/UAE-Emirates) +4:09
8) Mikel Landa (Spain/Movistar) +5:08
10) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) +7:48
12) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) +8:14