Mikel Landa (Movistar) has admitted that it is going to be difficult for him to ride the Road World Championships in Innsbruck after a fractured rib and vertebrae left him unable to train seriously for a month, and forced him to miss the Vuelta a Espana.
Landa crashed out of the Clasica San Sebastian on August 4 after finishing seventh overall at the Tour de France. Movistar hoped he could recover to lead the team alongside Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana. However, Landa was still in pain as the Vuelta a Espana began and he has spent recent weeks trying to find some end-of-season form.
Spanish national coach Javier Minguez named Landa in his initial long-list of riders for Innsbruck and put his trust in Landa to decide if he can perform on the testing Innsbruck circuit on Sunday September 30.
Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde will lead the Spanish team, with Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Mikel Neive (Mitchelton-Scott), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) and the Team Sky pairing of David de la Cruz and Jonathan Castroviejo also confirmed in the team. Omar Fraile (Astana) will replace Landa if he opts not to ride.
Landa lined up for the Giro della Toscana on Wednesday and will also ride the Coppa Sabatini race on Thursday before deciding if he is fit enough to join the Spanish national squad at a pre-worlds training camp in Sierra Nevada.
"It's going to be difficult… I've trained hard in recent weeks but I had almost a month without making any major efforts," Landa told Cyclingnews before the start of the Giro della Toscana.
"A month ago, when the team was being considered, I didn't want to say no because there was still time to see how I recovered. Now I want to see how I go in both the Giro della Toscana and the Coppa Sabatini and then I'll decide. I'm not yet convinced I can do the Worlds. It'll all depends on how I feel in the races. That's the key thing, that will give me the answers I'm looking for."
Staying with Movistar in 2019
The Astana team was reportedly interested in signing Landa for 2019 but he reiterated that he will stay with Movistar, despite competition for team leadership with Valverde and Quintana. Landa raced with Vinokourov's squad from 2014 to 2015, but left for Team Sky after being forced to play second Grand Tour leader to Fabio Aru. At Team Sky he found himself behind Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome in the leadership pecking order and so moved to Movistar.
There were reports during the Vuelta a Espana that Astana and Landa were considering paying a significant fee to end his contract with Movistar before 2019. However, this was before Miguel Angel Lopez emerged to finish third overall at the Vuelta a Espana.
"I'm staying with Movistar for 2019," Landa confirmed to Cyclingnews, unsure of his 2019 goals despite Nairo Quintana already saying he will target the Tour de France.
"We haven't decided my goals for next season yet, first we've got to finish this season, rest up and then we'll start thinking about 2019," Landa concluded.