Intxausti hoping to form Giro d’Italia-winning partnership with Mikel Landa

Team Sky could have two GC cards to play

Beñat Intxausti reckons he can build a strong partnership with Mikel Landa at Team Sky – one that could result in Giro d’Italia glory.

Both new signings at Team Sky, the team of three of the past four Tour de France winners, Landa has been charged with winning one of the other Grand Tours, starting with this year’s Giro, while Intxausti has immediately slotted in as his right-hand man.

The duo have never raced alongside one another before, but Intxausti, who will shadow Landa for much of the early portion of the season, has no doubt they can strike up a strong rapport.

“We already know each other well. We’re both Basque, we live nearby, we knew each other since we were kids. The language helps, having the same friends and things like that,” the 29-year-old told Cyclingnews at Team Sky’s recent media day in Mallorca.

“We haven’t been in a team together but we are close. It’s good to have that trust, and I’ll give 100 per cent for him.”

Intxausti is confident that his hard work will see some reward as he views Landa, who had to play second fiddle to Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali at Astana last year, as someone who possesses the leadership qualities needed to win a three-week race.

“He has the personality of a leader. He’s very ambitious, he sets out big objectives, it’s a sign of the essence of a leader.”

Having ridden all three Grand Tours at least twice, the Giro is Intxausti’s favourite and he recognises that “it has been very kind to me”, serving up two stage victories (2013 and 2015) and a top-10 overall finish (2013).

Contributing to a Grand Tour victory would rival those achievements and while circumstances will dictate if he ends up with a freer role at the Vuelta a España later in the year, the Giro is set to be his main objective of the season.

“It’s an ambitious target but one that is achievable. We’ll have to fight,” he said.

“The Giro is always really hard. It starts in Holland but there are lots of hard stages and a lot of climbing. You have to manage it, both in the time trials and the mountains, be the most consistent in oder to be able to win.

“He [Landa] has been on the podium, and won stages like me. We’ll work for him and hopefully he can enjoy the pink jersey.”

Intxausti spent five seasons at Movistar, and after being a few rungs down the pecking order among the Spanish squad’s abundance of stage racing talent, he might have fancied a leadership role at a smaller team. However, happy to play a support role for the most part in the years to come, he signed for Sky, with the primary motive being a desire for a new experience and a change of environment.

The move was eventually announced late in September but it had been on the cards as early as May.

“I’m very motivated, very driven, and after five years in a Spanish team it was time to move abroad, and for me the best place for me was Team Sky,” said Intxausti.

“After the Giro and Dauphine, I decided it was time to change, to move abroad, to have a new experience – that’s important. It was an easy decision to make. I want to make the most of it.”

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