After finishing seventh at the Tour de France, the Spaniard fractured a vertebra and a rib in a heavy crash at the Clásica San Sebastián. It was hoped he would recover in time to line up at the Vuelta for the first time since 2015, alongside Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde in Movistar's line-up, but the Spanish team announced his absence on Monday.
“We’ve fought the hardest we could during the last 15 days, trying to make sure Mikel could reach a high degree of recovery, but it wasn’t possible," said Movistar general manager Eusebio Unzué. “He’s gone through good and bad moments during these two weeks, but in the end, and at the time we had to make a choice, he just doesn’t have sufficient guarantees to go and take the start of the Vuelta.
“Pain in the lumbar zone of his back after the fracture, added to the two broken ribs he suffered in San Sebastián, have combined to make it unfeasible to go to Málaga with the health and fitness he needed. We will now focus on making sure he recovers completely, and after that, we’ll evaluate if he feels fit enough to take the start of the Tour of Britain. It’s an eight-day competition, and it’s also a very intense race. If he’s able to race there, we think he might gain the form he needs so he can be eligible for the Spanish national team in the World Championships.”
Losing Landa, their 'home' GC rider for the Vuelta, is a blow for Movistar, but Quintana is still expected to lead the line and target a second overall victory after his 2016 triumph. In Valverde they have another former winner and while the Murcian is ostensibly treating the Vuelta as preparation for the World Championships, he can never be ruled out.
Movistar's full line-up will be announced later on Monday.