Mikel Landa: 'I'd have preferred a different welcome from Quintana'

The Spaniard responds to his new Movistar team-mate's quip about leadership

Mikel Landa on stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Mikel Landa says he'd have preferred a 'different' welcome from Nairo Quintana to Movistar after the Colombian said last week that he was the definitive leader of the Tour de France.

Landa leaves Team Sky at the end of 2017 to join Spanish team Movistar in search of more leadership opportunities at Grand Tours, having finished fourth at this year's Tour despite riding in support of Chris Froome.

>>> Giro still a possibility for Chris Froome as he prepares for 2018 season

But he'll still face competition for sole leadership, with Quintana especially keen to take the top step at the Tour having finished second twice in his career already.

In an interview with El Pais last week, Quintana said "I am the leader of the team and I am the leader for the Tour" and that if he had Landa's support at the Tour it "would be a great team to take on strong teams like Sky."

Nairo Quintana on stage 12 of the 2017 Tour de France. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

In response, Landa told Mundo Deportivo over the weekend that he'd have liked a warmer reception from his new team-mate, but expected the team to be able to manage both of their egos over the course of the season.

"Obviously, I would have liked to get a different welcome, but I'm going to his house, and from what I can see, it looks like he doesn't like it," Landa said.

"I think that [team manager] Eusebio Unzué will manage our egos well and get the most out of each one."

Basque Landa, 27, emerged as a potential Grand Tour leader in his time with Astana, but found his route to leadership blocked by Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali at the Kazakh team. He took his only Grand Tour podium with the team at the Giro d'Italia in 2015, finishing behind team-mate Aru and winner Alberto Contador, having also taken two stage wins.

In 2016 he moved to Sky with the promise of leading the Giro squad, but illness struck and he was forced to abandon mid-way through the race, before riding the Tour de France in support of Froome.

Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide

Landa then went into the Giro with shared responsibilities with Geraint Thomas in 2017, but a crash involving a police motorcycle put paid to his chances once again, but he recovered to take a stage win and the King of the Mountains jersey.

He then had to play second fiddle to Froome again at the Tour, but at times looked stronger than the Brit, and managed to race to fourth overall even with his domestique duties.

Despite struggling to find his lead spot at Sky, Landa said that he "learned a lot" riding with Froome and that his time with the British team was "all positive."

He added that he hoped his joint leadership duties with Quintana would help take the pressure of them both and that they can both be much more effective as a pair.

"I think it's an advantage to be able to share responsibilities. It takes a little pressure off me," Landa added.

"Having him on side I think can be very positive and between the two we can do much more harm than individually."

"2017 has given me a lot of confidence and I believe that I have matured a lot as a cyclist and as a person,"

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Richard Windsor

Follow on Twitter: @richwindy

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.

An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).