Landa delays season debut to focus on time trialling preparation

New Sky signing switches from Valencia start to Andalucia, two weeks later

Mikel Landa’s much-anticipated first race in his new Team Sky colours will come two weeks later than initially expected because of continuing work on his time trialling, Basque newspaper Deia reports.

According to Deia, after missing out on the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, which started on Wednesday with a time trial victory for Sky teammate Woet Poels, Landa will now begin racing in 2016 in the Vuelta a Andalucia, which begins on February 17.

The reason suggested by the newspaper for the fortnight’s delay is that both Sky and Landa are making a big pre-season to maximise his potential in time trialling. It was his weak point during his spectacular Giro d’Italia performance last year, where he finished third but lost over four minutes in the race’s main TT, finishing 52nd in the 59 kilometre stage 14 between Treviso and Valdobiaddene.

Rather than Landa making the stage one time trial in Valencia his 2016 debut, as was previously announced, Sky have apparently earmarked the Vuelta a Andalucia’s time trial on stage four. A 21-kilometre individual effort through rugged terrain near the city of Malaga, as the ideal day for Landa’s first ‘live’ test against the clock.

Phase one of Sky’s time trial work with Landa was in December when he spent six hours at the velodrome on Mallorca, where the British team have their training camps, working on his ideal position. Since then, Deia claims, the Basque has been regularly training with his TT bike twice a week.

Sky’s team for the Vuelta a Andalucia, won by Chris Froome last year, has not yet been confirmed. Should Landa take part, Philippe Gilbert, Samuel Sanchez and Tejay Van Garderen ( BMC Racing), Rafael Majka and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) will all be rivals for the five-day race in southern Spain, as well as - possibly - three times Andalucia winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

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