Mikel Landa: 'Moving from Team Sky to Movistar was a marginal gain'

Mikel Landa talks about his move from Team Sky to Movistar after his first victory of the season: the queen climbing stage of the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico

Mikel Landa.
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Mikel Landa took his first victory for Team Movistar on Saturday in the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, and says that he could consider moving from Team Sky a 'marginal gain'.

The Spaniard worked for Chris Froome for two years in Team Sky, in 2016 and 2017, and switched to Movistar for 2018 to have more leadership opportunities. On Saturday, he won the queen stage of Tirreno-Adriatico to Sassotetto, his first in Movistar's blue colours.

"Maybe I can consider moving to Movistar a kind of marginal gain," Landa said.

"Maybe I'm happier, perhaps that's because of the way we ride. It's better for me, it's a better way for me to ride, as we saw today. It's different, there's less control and more chance to attack."

>>> Mikel Landa wins Tirreno-Adriatico stage four as Geraint Thomas loses overall lead due to mechanical

Landa is now leading his home WorldTour team in Tirreno-Adriatico and is slated to be one of three leaders in the Tour de France this July with Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde.

Last year, at times he appeared stronger than Froome in the Tour de France but maintained loyalty to Team Sky and finished in fourth overall, just one second from third place.

"There is a cultural difference, that's the biggest thing," Landa said of Movistar. "They're closer to my style, my way of doing things... The way we eat and joke."


Sky helped popularise 'marginal gains' in cycling with their warm-downs, altitude training camps and racing style. They signed Landa in 2016 after he placed third overall in the 2015 Giro d'Italia with team Astana.

Landa seems to have taken the best of Sky's marginal gains and added Movistar's Spanish familiarity to his benefit. In Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday, he calmly worked his way up to a lead attack group with Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), and handled himself for the win at 1335 metres.

>>> ‘It’s frustrating’: Geraint Thomas on losing Tirreno-Adriatico lead due to jammed chain

He now sits fourth overall at 20 seconds behind overall leader Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing). He is surrounded by his former Sky team-mates, Michal Kwiatkowski in second at one second and Geraint Thomas in fifth at 26 seconds.

"I'd like to finish on the podium," Landa added. "It's going to be difficult because the others will do better than me in the time trial [on Tuesday] but we'll see what happens in the final stages."

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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.