After two years at Team Sky, Basque cyclist Mikel Landa is said to be joining team Movistar in 2018.
Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, however, reports that he will work for Movistar instead in 2018. It said that the Spanish WorldTour team and Landa came to an agreement and needed to only confirm it.
UCI rules allow for new contract agreements to only be made on or after August 1. However many teams and riders already agree to a deal and simply announce it when that day comes.
The 27-year-old rode to third overall in the 2015 Giro d’Italia behind team leader Fabio Aru in second and winner Alberto Contador.
Sky signed him from Astana for two years, 2016 and 2017, that winter with the hope that they had finally found a Giro winner. He reportedly earns €1 million a year.
Landa pulled out midway through the 2016 Giro due to stomach problems and this May, crashed with Geraint Thomas on stage nine to Blockhaus due to a parked police motorbike.
However, Landa saved Sky’s Giro by winning the stage to Piancavallo and taking home the blue climber’s jersey. Last year, he proved a valuable helper in France when Froome raced to his third Tour title.
Sky is expected to give Landa the nod today in its nine-man Tour roster, but that could be the last big race for the two together. He said that he will not race the Vuelta a España if he races the Tour.
Landa is saying “adios” perhaps due to space with Thomas wanting more Grand Tour opportunities or due to the feelings he had in the British super team.
He would fill the shoes of Alejandro Valverde, now 37, at Movistar and provide the team a second option to Nairo Quintana in the Grand Tours. In theory, Landa would lead the team in the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
Sky will instead rally around Froome, who is supposed to extend his contract beyond 2018, and Thomas, who has a contract through 2018.
The Landa move would give Welshman Thomas the sole leadership for the Giro, which Sky still needs to win.