Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) during stage 4 of the 2021 Giro d'Italia.

Mikel Landa wins the Vuelta a Burgos as the Vuelta a España looms

Three months after crashing out of the Giro d'Italia, Mikel Landa took overall victory at Vuelta a España warm-up race the Vuelta a Burgos.

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Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) has taken overall victory at the Vuelta a Burgos, a major launchpad in the lead-up to the Vuelta a España.

This result is an important one for the Spaniard who is often active in the biggest races but whose efforts are rarely rewarded. His Vuelta a Burgos victory marks a 16th win since 2011, and his first since March 2019. Landa has raced for five different times in the past decade, but with Bahrain-Victorious he finally looks to the world like the Grand Tour leader he’s always seen in the mirror.

Earlier this year, Landa lined up for the Giro d’Italia as one of the top favourites and there were signs of blistering form in the first few stages, but his Giro hopes were wiped out when he crashed hard on stage 5, suffering a broken collarbone and multiple rib fractures. He didn’t start another race until the Clásica San Sebastián but once again, he turned up with very good legs.

The Vuelta a España is so often a last chance saloon for Grand Tour specialists, an opportunity to salvage something from the wreckage of a disappointing and/or injury-marred season. And like any other Grand Tour, the warm-up races are a crucial gauge. 

This year’s Vuelta a Burgos hosted a strong field of GC riders including 2018 Vuelta winner Simon Yates (BikeExchange), the resurgent Fabio Aru (Qhubeka NextHash), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers), and reigning Giro d’Italia champion Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) – all are expected to race the last Grand Tour of the season. In this field, Landa’s confident ride on Saturday’s stage 5 summit finish is a very promising sign.

In fact, though Landa came away as top dog, the Vuelta a Burgos was peppered with encouraging and, in one or two cases, surprising performances: Bardet’s first win in three and a half years, Carthy’s queen stage victory, Simon Yates’s third on the same stage, and Aru’s continuing return to form that saw him finish second overall.

If the Vuelta a Burgos is anything to go on, the Vuelta a España should more than live up to its compelling expectations, even without Tadej Pogačar.

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