Defending Tour of the Alps champion Mikel Landa is hoping that a return to the race that yielded his last victories in Team Sky colours will bring a change of fortune as he prepares for the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Sardinia in less than three weeks.
“I like this race a lot. It brings back some happy memories returning here after winning last year,” said the Spanish climber, who has been winless since taking overall victory in what was previously the Giro del Trentino last April.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly at the race’s team presentation in Kufstein, Landa admitted he has no idea what his condition is like after illness, having not raced since poor health forced him to quit on the sixth stage of the Volta a Catalunya last month.
“I’ve been out for a fairly long time. I finished Catalunya a little bit tired, and since then I’ve been at home.
“I decided to stay there rather than going on a training camp because it meant I could have more a bit more rest before I got back full into training,’ said Landa.
“Of course, the key goal is to get some form with a view to the Giro, which is getting very close now.”
Trentino has long been a form-sharpener for the Giro, and, for Landa at least, that is even more the case now that its mountainous aspect has been boosted.
Watch: Giro d’Italia essential guide
“The fact that they’ve added another day to this race, and that it’s also an extra day in the mountains, suits me perfectly,” he acknowledged.
“It will certainly help my Giro preparation to race several hard stages with a lot of metres of climbing.”
Landa believes the addition of a fifth day also boosts his chances of making a successful defence of the title.
“For sure, we’ve got some strong opposition, but like all races I go to, I want to be competitive and go for wins if I get the opportunity. The extra stage in the mountains might well provide that extra opportunity for me,” he said.
However, injuries within the Sky camp have left Landa and co-leader Geraint Thomas lacking teammates to support them.
Elia Viviani, Diego Rosa and David López were all initially slated for this race, but all three have either been rested or switched to other duties. Frenchman Kenny Elissonde is the only addition to Sky’s line-up, which is only six-strong.
“We are certainly going to struggle a bit more with having two riders fewer than some of the other teams, especially as the parcours is very tough,” agreed Landa.
Yet, if he does find the form of last year, Sky’s lack of numbers may not ultimately matter.
“I do really like the like the look of the route, especially in the final days three days,” he said.
“I think the key stages are likely to be the final one, which features Monte Bondone, and perhaps the third one as well over the Passo delle Erbe and the climb up to the finish.”