Mikel Landa‘s move to Team Sky is one of the most significant changes amongst the Grand Tour contenders for 2016 and the Basque rider begins the next segment of his career with his eyes set firmly on the Giro d’Italia, where he came third this year behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabio Aru (Astana).
Landa will turn 26 in December and has already been tipped as a possible successor to Joaquim Rodriguez, Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde as the Spain’s big-name stage racer. It has been a long wait for a new face of such characteristics in Spanish cycling, and as such, Landa’s performance in the Giro d’Italia next year, where he will lead Team Sky, will be watched very closely in Spain.
For Team Sky, Landa represents further change. He will be their fifth different Giro d’Italia leader in as many years. The British team will be hoping Landa fits the bill after Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte failed to live up to expectations. The Basque climber says will be looking “to go all out for everything” even though the Giro d’Italia route is not, he tells Cyclingnews, totally to his liking. Exactly how well he can do on it, we will find out next May.
Cyclingnews: First off, when did Team Sky start to get interested in signing you?
Mikel Landa: They were very interested in me ever since the beginning of 2015 and they’d been following my progress closely for quite a few years. Then after I got third in the Giro d’Italia, they were much more interested, they offered me a very ambitious overall plan, and that’s what made me want to sign for them.
CN: It seemed also pretty clear that the Astana team had decided their leaders and that if you wanted to progress any further you had to move on. Was that the case?
ML: That’s true. In Astana, there were two leaders for the years to come and I couldn’t find a space for me. I wanted to try being a leader and this was the way to do it.
CN: What do you know about next year’s Giro d’Italia? Have you looked at the route?
ML: A bit. It could maybe suit me better. I could do with more summit finishes, of the Zoncolan type, for example. That would suit me the best. But it’s got a lot of hard stages in the mountains, even if the finishes in the first week aren’t as hard as this year’s Giro. And I like that time trial, although I’m going to have to work very hard at that: there are three time trials and I can’t afford to lose much time there.
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