Speculation may have been rife about a possible rift between Chris Froome and Mikel Landa at last year’s Tour de France, but the two men will now have a chance to properly go head-to-head at the upcoming Ruta del Sol.
With Froome’s participation having been confirmed last week, Mikel Landa has now been named in the Movistar line-up for the race having made the move across from Team Sky for 2018.
The race will be Landa’s first in the new light blue colours of Movistar, where he will lead a team consisting of Andrey Amador, Jorge Arcas, Carlos Barbero, Héctor Carretero, Imanol Erviti and Marc Soler.
With Nairo Quintana having finished second overall behind Team Sky’s Egan Bernal in the recent Colombia Oro y Paz race in South America, the Ruta del Sol will be Landa’s first chance to lay down an early-season marker with both him and Quintana targetting leadership of Movistar at the Tour de France in July.
Watch: Tour de France route guide 2018
Landa finished fourth at the 2017 Tour de France, missing out on a podium spot by just one second, after working as a domestique for Chris Froome as the Brit secured a fourth yellow jersey in Paris.
Rumours about his move to Movistar (which was publicly confirmed in August) began to circulate during the race, with Landa arguably fuelling speculation over his future as he looked strong while Froome was dropped on stage 12, before getting in an escape and finishing fourth on the short and punchy stage 13 to Foix.
However Landa remained close to Froome as he defended his lead through the Alps on stages 17 and 18, finishing with the main contenders on both of these days.
The Ruta del Sol starts on February 14 and consists of five stages of racing around the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. The race is likely to be decided on the two summit finishes on stages two and four, although there are also likely to be time gaps on the final time trial on stage five.