Landa ready for Tour de France apprenticeship with Froome and Team Sky

'If I can get a chance to play my own cards, I will try to make the most of it'

Mikel Landa took part in the Spanish national time trial championship on Thursday, attending the event with a couple of members of the Team Sky staff and one of the team’s vehicles.

The charisma of the Basque rider amongst the Spanish public was clear to see by the size of the crowd that cheerfully observed his warm-up on the rollers. When he went to the start line, the crowd gave him an affectionate send off with a huge round of applause that was repeated after he completed his effort and finished 10th, three minutes slower than the winner Ion Izagirre (Movistar Team).

“It’s been a test for me," he told Cyclingnews while warming down. “This kind of race is not my cup of tea, so I took it as training. I’ve taken some lessons out of it.”

It was Landa’s first time trial since his outstanding performance in the Giro d’Italia Chianti time trial, where he finished an impressive 20th. It confirmed Landa's progression against the clock. It was Landa’s first participation in the Spanish national championships as a professional.

“In previous years, this event hasn’t fitted on my race schedule because I was taking a rest after the Giro d’Italia or prior to the Vuelta a España. This time, both races were a good chance of putting in a last effort before heading to the Tour de France,” he explained.

Landa admits his participation on the Spanish national championships was partially spurred by his desire of making the Spanish team for the Olympic Games.

“In fairness, riders aiming to compete with the Spanish national team should participate in this event. I for one am here thinking of the Tour de France, but I think I’m making a good gesture in order to be called for Rio,” he argued.

Tour de France focus

After taking part in the road race event, Landa will cross the Pyrenees to race the Tour de France. The race was on his original program for the year but with a question mark next to it. That doubt was erased due to the illness that forced him out the Giro d’Italia - his main goal of the season. Now he is set to support Chris Froome. He believes he is ready and believes he is in the same form he showed at the Giro d’Italia before being struck by stomach problems.

“The illness that forced my withdrawal from the Giro d’Italia only lasted for three days: one with fever and another two with abdominal pain,” he explained. “I took a week to rest and then I got back to training. The goal was to keep the condition I had till the Dauphiné. Once recovered after that race, my shape will be the same I had on the eve of the Giro. In the end, I’m only lack a bit of rhythm. The aim is to feel fresh heading to France.”

Landa spent several days training with Chris Froome and some other Team Sky riders right after the Dauphiné.

“Less days than I thought,” he points out with a smile. “Anyway, we were able to reckon the uphill time trial of the Tour de France and the two final mountain stages.”

Speaking about his hopes for the upcoming Grande Boucle, he suggests he is on an apprenticeship.

“I hope to learn a lot on the Tour de France. I think I have a leader [Chris Froome] who I can learn a lot of from. And, if I can get a chance to play my own cards, I will try to make the most of it,” he said, hinting he hopes he to have the freedom to target and win a mountain stage as he did in Andorra during last year’s Vuelta a España.

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