Mikel Landa does not feel the pressure from the success of his teammates at Bahrain-Victorious and despite underperforming himself he still hopes for a grand tour win in 2022.
The Spanish rider has won just one race for Bahrain, the 2021 Vuelta a Burgos, while his team has gone from strength to strength.
Bahrain-Victorious lived up to the latter part of their name, achieving stage wins in each of the grand tours this year, podiums on general classification at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, and winning the rescheduled Paris-Roubaix.
Speaking to the media from a training camp on Sunday, Landa said: “Last season was a great one for Bahrain-Victorious, but I never feel exceptionally under pressure to perform. The more riders there are winning and doing well on GC, the better for the squad."
He was clear that the team wants to build on their breakout year: “This season has been super good, so we have to find continuity and then improve, try to improve year by year.”
Landa’s season was badly affected by a serious crash on stage five of the Giro, during which he sustained a fractured clavicle and ribs. He had to undergo surgery following the accident, which forced him to withdraw from the race.
Following the incident, Landa was largely anonymous at the Vuelta a España until he abandoned on stage 17, while his teammates Jack Haig and Gino Mäder starred. Landa did not avoid the fact that his 2021 was “difficult”.
However, Bahrain have re-signed him until 2023, putting faith in his GC abilities. In fact, it is the first time that he has spent more than two years with one team since he left Euskaltel - Euskadi in 2013. In that time, he has had two year spells at Astana, Team Sky and then Movistar.
For 2022, his one wish is to have “good health”.
“I always need a bit of luck, but if I am healthy then I can give my best,” he said. “Last year I had a very difficult season because of the Giro, so my one goal is to be competitive throughout.”
"I still want to be better and better so I have to find that continuity, improve year by year,” he added.
Since joining what was then Bahrain-McLaren ahead of the 2020 season, Landa’s time at the team has been affected by the pandemic and then by injury. His fourth place at the 2020 Tour de France pointed to a consistency that the Basque rider hopes can return, however.
His big objective for the season is to race the Tour, and he named this as the grand tour he would like to take part in. Meanwhile, the Giro could also suit him with its low volume of time-trialling, at just 26.3km on the planned route.
Landa explained: “Having so little time trialling makes it [the Giro] a great opportunity. I don't know whether I'll do one or the other, but ideally, I'd like to be in both."
The Spanish rider named a win at a grand tour as his aim next year, despite only finishing on the podium of one once: the Giro in 2015. He has however finished in the top ten of the Giro and the Tour six times.
His preparations for the new season are reasonably lightweight. "I've done a few changes on the TT bike, but nothing more special than that," he explained. "With a training camp now and another in January, it all goes around pretty quickly and hopefully I'm going to be in a good place when it comes to starting the year.
“My off-season has been relaxed like always, some holiday… I think I’m ready to again be in good shape for 2022.”
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