Mikel Landa has been forced to delay Team Sky debut yet further after he had to pull out of the Ruta del Sol (Vuelta a Andalucia) due to illness. The Spaniard tweeted on Saturday saying that he wouldn’t be at the race, which is due to start on February 17.
“Finally I won't be at @VCANDALUCIA . Illness means delayed my preparation and I'm not 100% for season debut. Hope to be back soon,” he wrote.
Landa was due make his season debut at the Spanish race after already delaying it once to work on his time trialling. He had originally been pencilled in to start his year at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. It has been four months since Landa last raced at Il Lombardia in October. Landa’s first race is now due to be Tirreno-Adriatico at the start of March, with his main target in the early part of the season is the Giro d’Italia.
Instead of Landa, it is Wout Poels - who took the overall victory in Valencia - that will lead the team at the Ruta del Sol. He will be joined by Benat Intxausti, who finished third, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Gianni Moscon, Mikel Nieve, and Ben Swift.
"This is my first time racing Ruta del Sol and I am really looking forward to it. Froomey won this race last year so there are big shoes for me to fill. But I am pleased with my own form, the team is full of confidence, and we will be doing everything we can to keep our momentum going," said Poels.
Sky are also set to ride the Volta ao Algarve, which runs concurrently with the Ruta del Sol. Michal Kwiatkowski has already made his debut in team Sky colours but the Portuguese race, which he won in 2014, is his first stage race for the team. Kwiatkowski had a strong start to the season with two second places at the Mallorca Challenge.
"It was good to start racing with my new teammates in Majorca. It's early days in the season but morale is high and there is a real buzz in the camp. This is a race that has always suited me and I want to help build on the team's good start to the season,” Kwiatkowski said.
Alongside him will be last year’s race winner Geraint Thomas, who began his season at last month’s Tour Down Under. Michal Golas, Sebastian Henao, David Lopez, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard complete the line-up.