Landa ready to share Giro d'Italia leadership with Thomas

Team Sky rider says he's calmer and more relaxed after challenging 2016

Following an up-and-down first year with Team Sky that he describes as "difficult," Mikel Landa says he's ready to start his 2017 season at the Ruta Del Sol with a more calm, relaxed attitude.

Speaking with the Spanish publication Marca, Landa also said he's willing to go into the Giro d'Italia as co-leader with Geraint Thomas, letting the early stages of the race decide who the team will support for the general classification.

"I see it as a good thing," Landa told Marca when asked about sharing Giro leadership with his British teammate, pointing out that the number of time trials in the race could favour Thomas.

"Thomas is a very good rider, and that's why he's going to be a team leader himself, as well," Landa continued. "We can combine our strengths well, and make a more powerful team around us. I do not know if I'm going with the number one; we have not talked about it. I think we will split both on equal terms and then the race will say who is better and who has more options."

When he moved from Astana - with whom he finished third in the 2015 Giro - to Team Sky last year, Landa was hyped as the team's newest Grand Tour contender.

His 2016 season started well with a stage win in Pais Vasco and overall victory and the Giro del Trentino. But the wheels came off the wagon when Landa had to abandon the Giro on stage 10 while he was eighth overall. He started the Tour de France and finished an unspectacular 35th overall, having helped Chris Froome secure his third title. His season ended with a DNF at Il Lombardia.

"Last year there was a lot of change," Landa told Marca, explaining some of the difficulty he had. "Not only was I going to a new and different team, but also my role was different. I went from domestique, from an unnoticed rider in Astana, to leader at Sky. It was quite a big change. Now, with that year behind me, I am facing everything with more peace of mind and I also notice I am calmer, and more relaxed."

Landa will get his first chance to put his new attitude to the test at the Ruta del Sol that starts on February 15. The 2.HC race has a talented field that includes Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) and Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb).

The Spaniard told Marca he is highly motivated to get back into the mix again, although he doesn't have high expectations for his first time out of the gate.

"I am in good condition, the numbers in training are very good, but I have not competed for a long time and the people coming from Valencia and Tour Down Under will have it better," he said. "It will be difficult for me to contest for the overall. I hope to do well, defend myself and leave Andalusia with a good taste in my mouth. I am sure I will put up good performance."

Thomas, meanwhile, flew to South Africa Saturday night to train with Chris Froome and is expected to skip the cobbled Classics this year. After Ruta del Sol, Landa will compete in Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya, with the possibility of another training camp in Tenerife before the Giro.

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