Movistar have yet to confirm the full race programmes of their triumvirate of team leaders, but Mikel Landa has listed the Tour de France and Vuelta a España among his aims in 2018 and said that the time has come to pursue his own objectives.
Landa has left Team Sky to join Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde at Movistar for 2018, and it remains to be seen how they will dovetail their interests over the course of the season, particularly at the Tour, where all three riders could feature in Movistar’s eight-man line-up.
After sacrificing his own chances in the Grand Tours for those of his leaders during his stints at Astana and Team Sky, the 28-year-old Landa is eager to seize any opportunities that arise at his new team.
“That time as a domestique is behind me,” Landa told AS. “They stopped me at both Astana and Sky when I had the legs to win. If they tell me to stop again, I will not. I have to pursue my goals.”
Landa insisted, however, that there would be no problems of coexistence with the established leaders Quintana and Valverde. Quintana is set to target the Tour in 2018 after his ill-fated tilt at the Giro-Tour double this season, while Valverde returns to action after breaking his kneecap on the opening day of the Tour in Düsseldorf.
“It’s perhaps more relaxed with Alejandro, who is a very cheerful person,” Landa said of his rapport with his co-leaders. “I understand that Nairo is stressing his status as a leader: he wants his opportunities, like I want mine. I deserve them and we will complement each other.”
Landa confirmed that he will start his season at the Vuelta a Andalucia in February and expressed a preference to return to the Tour de France after narrowly missing out on a spot on the podium in 2017. After riding strongly in the service of Chris Froome, Landa finished 4th overall, just a second off third-placed Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale).
“In principle, [I’ll ride] the Tour and Vuelta. I have gathered years of experience and I believe that I have earned the right to come to the Grand Tours with freedom to move,” said Landa, who revisited the disappointment of his near miss at the Tour.
“With time, it hurts more. That’s why I want to ride for myself, so I won’t have anything to reproach myself for. I was blocked in those three weeks in the service of Froome. I knew that it was going to be like that, but I still would have appreciated if they had played my card so we could both have finished on the podium in Paris.”