Mikel Landa is a Spanish road cyclist who will ride for Bahrain-McLaren in 2020.
Landa has often been seen as a wasted talent, spending many Grand Tours as either a super domestique or in a joint team leader role, thus not getting adequate support. This has culminated in the hastag #FreeLanda, to symbolise his supportive role of potentially lesser climbers.
Mikel Landa: career to date
Mikel Landa first arrived on the pro scene in 2009, riding for the Orbea Continental development team. He then moved on to take a place on Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2011, eventually joining Astana for the 2014 season.
There, he worked for Fabio Aru as a domestique at the Giro d’Italia – playing a pivotal role in ferrying him to third overall.
In 2015, he took the win on stage five of his home race – the Tour of the Basque Country. That same year, he began the Giro as a pawn to assist Aru. However, on stage 16, Landa moved into second on GC, ahead of his Italian team mate – before Aru put his stamp back on the race on stage 19.
On stage 20, Landa appeared stronger, attacking and leaving Aru and leader Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) behind. He did, however, wait for Aru in the end – the pair working to take time from Contador.
The end result of the 2015 Giro d’Italia battle was that Contador took the overall, with Aru second, 2 minutes 02 seonds back and Landa third, behind by 3 minutes 14 seconds.
The in-team competition at the Giro raised eyebrows, but Landa had 2016 sorted: he joined Team Sky.
That year he won the Giro del Trentino, also claiming stage two of the Tour of the Basque Country. He took on the Giro d’Italia, too – but abandoned on stage 10 due to illness – an unfortunate loss to the team after he had moved into 8th place overall.
He recovered to race the 2016 Tour de France, where he played mountain domestique to Chris Froome.
The same was true in 2017, where Landa finished fourth overall, a single second off the podium, as well as riding the Giro d’Italia, aiming for the GC alongside dual leader Geraint Thomas.
Thomas was forced to abandon after a crash on stage nine, where Landa also lost time but continued the race – eventually scooping the climber’s jersey.
In 2018 he moved to Movistar in pursuit of team leadership at Grand Tours. However, it was decided that Movistar would continue their three-pronged strategy with Quintana and Valverde going for the overall. Each of the leaders lost time early on and failed to challenge for yellow. Landa made an excellent move on stage 19 to claim back time and win a stage. For a while he sat in 2nd place on the virtual GC. However, cooperation in the group broke down and they were eventually all reeled in.
He will move to Bahrain McLaren in 2020, where he hopes to have leadership in the Grand Tours.