Astana have sent a star-studded team to the Vuelta a España (opens in new tab) and while Mikel Landa may not get the chance to go for the overall victory, he is targeting a stage win and a high overall finish.
Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali (opens in new tab) are likely to fight it out for the leadership over the course of the three weeks but Landa is hoping for a repeat of the Giro d'Italia, where he went under the radar to finish third overall.
With Aru and Landa taking the second and third spots on the Giro podium and Nibali only managing fourth place (opens in new tab) in his Tour de France defence, Astana's goal is to win the third and final Grand Tour of the year.
"At the start there'll be three of us and we’ll see where we are day by day," Landa told Biciciclismo (opens in new tab). "The team's goal is to win and hopefully that will happen with one of us. Last year, we won the Tour with Nibali and we want to repeat and win a Grand Tour this year."
The Spaniard has been linked with a move to Team Sky for 2016 (opens in new tab) with his Astana contract coming to an end, but there's no sense of him simply spinning his way to the end of the year.
Landa took an extended break after the Giro, returning at the Classica San Sebastian and Vuelta a Burgos in early August with mixed results. He admitted it has taken him longer to find form than he anticipated but the signs are looking good for the Vuelta.
He said: "I was a long time without racing and although I worked my hardest, it took me a little longer than I thought. But I think I'm going in the right direction for the Vuelta."
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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