'Mikel Landa paid the price at Team Sky. Astana are interested in men, not robots'

Astana boss Alexandre Vinokourov says that he doesn't believe Landa has benefited from Sky's training methods

Mikal Landa on stage nine of the 2016 Giro d'Italia (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

Astana boss Alexandre Vinokourov says that Mikel Landa suffered from Team Sky's training methods and that his team "does not work watts" and "is not interested in robots."

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Landa blossomed in Astana's turquoise colours. In the 2015 Giro d'Italia, the Spaniard appeared stronger than leader Fabio Aru and won two summit finish stages to Madonna di Campiglio and Aprica. He nearly upset eventual winner Alberto Contador and placed third overall.

Sky signed him soon after with the hopes of winning the Giro. Landa was sick ahead of leading the race and had to abandon mid-Giro with stomach problems.

"Our team is one build around the man and the athlete," Vinokourov said during team Astana's training camp in Montecatini Terme, Italy. "We work on the physical characteristics and the rider's sensations, not on watts...

"We are interested in men, not robots, like other teams. For example, I was pretty disappointed this year with Mikel Landa, who paid the price for changing his training totally and this way of interpreting cycling."

Landa wins his second stage at the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

Landa wins his second stage at the 2015 Giro d'Italia. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

"Sometimes you learn more from the seasons in which you do not win than those that come with wins," Landa told Spanish newspaper Marca recently.

"I made it until the mid-way point well and after the Tour de France, could barely race because of my hip. I learned a lot also in that time. When things go wrong, you are forced to analyse it so that does not happen again."

Vinokourov began team Astana when Liberty Seguros pulled the plug on his team during the Operación Puerto doping scandal of 2006. The Kazakh tested positive for blood doping in the 2007 Tour de France after winning two stages.

He changed from rider to manager after the 2012 Olympic road race win and supported Nibali to his 2014 Tour de France title.

For 2017, his team is changing without Nibali, who left for team Bahrain-Merida, and with new kit, Giordana turquoise and black jerseys and Argon 18 bikes instead of Specialized.

"I don't think it was money that made Nibali decide to leave for Bahrain," Vinokourov added.

"He was well off with us, we can't thank him enough for his wins, but that he wanted to build a team, also thinking about the time when he leaves cycling."

Landa should have another crack at the Giro d'Italia overall for Team Sky. Chris Froome is due to lead the Tour de France team for a fourth title.

"My schedule is more or less planned and will be similar to other years," said Landa.

"The question is whether to start in the Tour of Andalucía or Valenciana. I'll be in the Tirreno-Adriatico, in the Volta a Catalunya and dispute the Giro del Trentino to get in the best shape at the Giro d'Italia, the big goal of the year again. I am going there with more experience."

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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.