Mikel Landa went awfully close to grabbing a morale-boosting win at the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid on Saturday.
The ace climber, who's struggled for form all spring, was beaten to the line in the one-day race in a two-up sprint with Movistar's Javi Moreno at the top of the cat.1 Alto de Mocuera.
It was a close miss, but the 23-year-old wasn't all that downbeat when talking to the press afterwards.
"This result is important as it boosts my morale", he said. "It's been a difficult start to the season. Allergies have hindered me in bringing out the best in myself and profit from the work I've laid down. Today I was able to do something meaningful on the bike, and that always motivates you to keep working".
Sports director Álex Díaz explained post-race that Peio Bilbao had actually been the team's designated captain, but that all changed when the slender Gernika-born escalador hit the tarmac in a feed zone.
Bilbao got back up and finished the race, but could only muster 17th.
Another Euskaltel rider who caught the attention was Garikoitz Bravo who once again made it into the break of the day.
- (1, Javi Moreno (Movistar), 4:25:01)
- 2, Mikel Landa, s.t.
- 17, Peio Bilbao, 1:44
- 32, Adrián Sáez, 3:57
- 61, Ricardo García, 12:20
- 68, Jon Aberasturi, 12:25
- 71, Tarik Chaoufi, 13:52
- 74, Garikoitz Bravo, 15:28
Photo: Iñaki Azanza