Mikel Landa: 'I improved riding next to Chris Froome at Team Sky'

Spaniard Mikel Landa says that his experience riding with Chris Froome on Team Sky has helped him improve and given him confidence, which he will take to Movistar in 2018

Mikel Landa, Chris Froome, and Fabio Aru on stage 12 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Mikel Landa says that his two years riding with Chris Froome and Team Sky have made him "stronger and more confident", as he leaves the British squad for Movistar in 2018.

Landa recently helped Froome win the 2017 Tour de France after he himself won a stage in the Giro d'Italia. After the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Movistar have signed him to lead their Grand Tour team next season.

"I feel stronger and I have more confidence in myself," Landa told Cycling Weekly. "I'm a stronger rider than two years ago."

Landa is currently in South China for the start of the Tour of Guangxi, his last race in team Sky's black and blue colours. He joined Sky in 2016 after he previously rode for Astana, for whom he placed third overall and won two stages in the 2015 Giro d'Italia.

>>> Alejandro Valverde hopes to skip 2018 Tour de France as Movistar focus on Quintana and Landa

"I learnt a lot because Team Sky is one of the best teams in three-week races and they have one of the best riders at this moment with Chris Froome," he added. "It's been a very nice experience, but now I have different ambitions and different goals, so I decided to leave the team."

Sky took Landa as co-leader with Geraint Thomas to the Giro d'Italia this year. However, both riders crashed on stage nine and fell out of the overall ranks. Landa salvaged his and Sky's Giro by going on to win a mountain stage and the blue mountains jersey.

Mikel Landa won stage 19 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia after crashing and losing time earlier in the race. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

He rebounded from the Giro in the Tour de France as Froome's helper deluxe. Insiders started saying that he was so strong that perhaps he would lead Sky when Froome lost the yellow jersey on the stage to Peyragudes.

"Well Spanish fans and press want a new Spanish rider winning the Tour de France and they were starting to create stories, but I was working for Chris from the first day and I don't think it's fair to say that I would've done otherwise."

Landa said that he wanted to be the plan A option in a team. The Movistar deal came about and he jumped ship.

"It's a Spanish team and I think that they bet for me [to join], I'm pretty sure I will have all the support I need," Landa said.

Watch: Best of the Tour de France 2017

"It's true that people are looking for new classification star after Alberto Contador, but it's also very clear that Alberto is a super-class rider and I'm on another level. At the same time, I am happy with where I am. I still haven't won a Grand Tour and I still need to work a lot to get that victory.

"I was very sad with what happened about the crash in the Giro d'Italia because we will never know how the classification could have gone for me and for Geraint Thomas, but we made the best out of it."

"In the Tour, I would've liked to be on the podium, but we went to win the Tour with Chris Froome as leader and the goal from the first day was for him to win and I couldn't hope for anything else."

Landa placed fourth overall in the Tour, one second behind Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r).

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.