Mikel Landa admits that he missed the Giro d’Italia last year and looks forward to returning to try for the win in 2019.
The Basque rider will lead Movistar in the Giro d’Italia this May 11 to June 2 before turning his attention to the Tour de France, where he will ride with Nairo Quintana.
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The programme is similar to 2017, when he rode for Team Sky. Then he won a stage and the mountain classification in the Giro and placed fourth in the Tour helping Chris Froome win.
“It was a bit strange for me. I had been doing that for several years and, yes, I missed it,” Landa told Marca about the Giro.
The 2018 season was his first with Movistar after switching from Team Sky. He built up for the Tour and skipped the Giro; the first time to miss the Italian Grand Tour since 2013.
The season saw a trend continue for Landa, where a strong season is followed by a dip. In 2015, he had placed third in the Giro helping then Astana team-mate Fabio Aru to second and won a stage in the Vuelta a España.
“It is true, both in 2015 and 2017 the situation was similar. I hope that in 2019 the story is repeated. In terms of performance [last year], I felt good many times but I wasn’t been able to prove it,” he explained.
“The desire to attack remains, to shake up the race when you can. I think that I have that still, but with a little more responsibility. I am, at times, a bit more conservative.”
He ended the year “frustrated” with a second overall in the Tour of the Basque Country and seventh in the Tour. The crashes, also in the Clásica San Sebastián, took their toll.
“It was a year that I ended the most frustrated,” he said.
“But there are still people who trust me and I’ll be able to have another great opportunity this year.”
Movistar began the Tour with a three-prong attack with Landa, Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. Quintana highlighted the race for the Spanish team with a stage win. In the overall, though, the team suffered.
Landa crashed in the Roubaix, stage nine and lost a bit of spark, finding out later he had fractured a vertebra. He finished seventh overall behind winner Geraint Thomas (Sky).
“Now it hurts more than before, because I know I did half a Tour with a cracked vertebra. But at the same time, it is what encourages me to try again.”
He is aiming for the Giro and then going to the Tour. Last year, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) placed second overall in both races. Froome won the Giro and placed third in the Tour.
In 2019, Landa joins several double riders: Dumoulin, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and possibly Thomas.
“I think it’s good for me to do both. The Giro is a race that I’m good at, in case I’m not good at the Tour. I would say that it is a more conservative programme rather than a risky one,” he continued.
“We’ve make a good plan until the Giro to do it there as well as possible and then I’ll get the most out of my body in the Tour.
“Like in 2017, which went well for me. I will do the same, to try to reach 100% in the Giro and hopefully 99% in the Tour or 101%! [laughs].”