Team Sky's Mikel Landa will begin his 2017 season at the Ruta del Sol in preparation for the Giro d'Italia

Team Sky‘s Giro d’Italia co-leader Mikel Landa will begin his racing season at the Ruta del Sol in Spain next week (February 15-19).

In what is set to be the season’s first big battle on European soil between the best general classification riders, Landa will lead a Sky team that also includes Wout Poels and debutant Diego Rosa.

After abandoning the Giro d’Italia with illness on stage 10 last year, Landa will share leadership responsibilities with Geraint Thomas in this year’s race.

The Ruta del Sol is seen as Landa’s first test against other GC riders, including Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) who is also targeting the Giro.

>>> ‘Mikel Landa paid the price at Team Sky. Astana are interested in men, not robots’

Alberto Contador is making his debut for Trek-Segafredo in the Spanish race, while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) will also be aiming for the overall win.

The race, that takes place in the Andalusia region of Spain, has a summit finish on stage two and an 11.9-kilometre time trial the day after.

After the Ruta del Sol, Landa will then race Tirreno-Adriatico in early- to mid-March before racing the Tour of Catalonia alongside Chris Froome later in the month.

Landa, who joined Sky from Astana in 2015 when he finished third at the Giro, will then defend his title at the Giro del Trentino, which finishes just over two weeks before the Tour of Italy begins on May 5.