Key Team Sky domestique Mikel Landa has spoken of his “anger” and “frustration” at having to sacrifice his own chances and missing out on the podium by one second while working for Chris Froome at the Tour de France.
From the Pyrenees onwards Landa became Froome’s right-hand man in the mountains, but was left frustrated on the final summit finish to the Col d’Izoard on stage 18 when his promising attack came to nothing before having to work on the front of the group of contenders, losing 12 seconds at the finish that would ultimately cost him a spot on the podium in Paris.
“On the Izoard I could have lifted my foot when they caught me, I could have moved into the wheels and I would not have lost 12 seconds,” Landa told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
“But I went ahead and pushed it, which was what Froome wanted. He told me to be slower, slower. That day I was very angry because I sacrificed myself without making a gain for the team.”
After a relatively quiet start to the race, Landa described how he came into form in the second week, which led to him finishing third on the summit finish to Peyragudes while Froome lost time and the yellow jersey.
This was seen by some as the start of a leadership battle within Team Sky, but Landa insists that team boss Dave Brailsford handled the situation very well and that he enjoyed a good relationship with Froome.
“From the start Brailsford handled the situation very well, making us communicate a lot,” Landa continued.
“On my part, and I suppose on his [Froome’s] part too, we have talked about everything so that there would be nothing bad. We all came as one, and that’s how it was.”
Having established himself as a bona fide Grand Tour contender with this fourth place at the Tour and third overall at the 2015 Giro d’Italia, Landa is widely expected to leave Team Sky at the end of the season, with Movistar seeming to be his most likely destination.
That would see him on the same team as Nairo Quintana, potentially forcing Landa to play second fiddle in the same way he did to Froome in 2017, something the Spaniard said he’s not prepared to accept.
“I don’t want to be in this situation again. It’s so frustrating!” Landa continued. “In all the teams there are already established leaders, but I think there is a timetable to distribute [leadership]. In any case, the boss will know how to manage.”