Mikel Landa: 'Froome could pay for his Giro efforts at the Tour'

The Spaniard will ride in a three-way leadership of the Movistar team at the Tour de France in July

Mikel Landa at 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico. Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Chris Froome is the top favourite as he heads to the Tour de France to try to win a fifth title, but his former Team Sky helper Mikel Landa says that the Giro d'Italia could weigh heavy in his legs.

Landa, who finished fourth at one second from third place in 2017, will lead the Movistar team with co-captains Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. The race starts on July 7 in Vendée.

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"Froome is the top favourite," the Basque rider said.

"He's won the Giro, he's finished the race in great form and I'm sure he'll be again strong in the Tour. He's won this race four times and will be the man to beat.

"He'll surely start out in great form, but might pay after his efforts in the Giro during the final week. With him aboard, Team Sky will take on the main responsibility at the front of the bunch, just like in previous years.

Chris Froome attacks on the Colle delle Finestre on stage 19 of the Giro (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

"However, there are many other favourites: [Richie] Porte, [Rigoberto] Urán, [Romain] Bardet, [Vincenzo] Nibali… I think like there's a field strong enough to not see the race scenario focusing just on Froome."

Landa knows Froome well having raced with him for two years in 2016 and 2017 at Team Sky. Landa at one point in the 2017 Tour appeared stronger and some suggested he should lead the Sky team to Paris. Instead, he rode as a loyal helper and finished just a single second from the podium.

He later said that he was upset with Team Sky for not helping him reach the podium and that he would no longer sacrifice himself when he has a chance to win.

Froome appears unstoppable though. He won the Vuelta a España after the 2017 Tour and, despite an on-going case for asthma drug salbutamol from the Vuelta, he continued into 2018 in charge.

After two crashes, he bounced back from a near-five-minute deficit to take the Giro's pink jersey with an 80.3-kilometre solo ride to Jafferau. He became the Giro's first British victor two days later.

Landa built his season solely on the Tour de France with races and training camps this spring to put him in form starting on day one, a flat sprinter-friendly stage to Fontenay-le-Comte.

"It's been a pretty calm year so far. We planned on reaching an early form peak in the spring to contest the Vuelta al País Vasco and being able to help Alejandro out in the Ardennes Classics, which I didn't really know well. I drew some good conclusions from those efforts, and after that, we started thinking only about the Tour," Landa explained.

He put in a heavier workload in May at altitude for 20 days at Madrid's Navacerrada ski resort. Now he is in the Pyrenees near home, training and previewing the climbs and final Espelette time trial.

"I'll be reaching the Tour de France with 30 racing days under my belt, but more importantly than the figures, the approach to the Tour will be completely different to previous years," continued Landa.

"In the last two years, I had previously ridden the Giro. You come to the start after having reached your peak form just few weeks before, and it's about keeping that fitness alive and staying strong. This time, I expect to keep progressing during the race and hopefully feel quite fresher at the final part of the competition."

Froome, with the Giro in his legs, decided to not race at all this month of June and train specifically at altitude and over some of the Tour's mountain 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.