Landa to ride Dwars door Vlaanderen as Tour de France preparation

Spaniard heading for the cobbles for the first time in his career

Mikel Landa (Movistar) will take to the cobbles for the first time in his career at Dwars door Vlaanderen in March, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.

The Spaniard has never raced on the pavé as a pro and has only raced once on Belgium soil – a DNF at the 2013 Flèche Wallonne.

However, the cobblestone sectors that await on stage 9 of the Tour de France have had the Movistar team planning a taste of the pavé in race conditions for their leaders.

According to Marca, Landa will race Dwars door Vlaanderen on March 28 in the second week of the cobbled classics campaign.

The race is the lightest on cobbles and so perhaps the most appropriate introduction for a lightweight climber. There are three listed cobblestone sectors, totalling just over four kilometres, but some of the climbs are cobbled, too.

The first sector at Mariaborrestraat, 55km from the finish, lasts 2,400 metres and leads into the Steenbeekdries climb and the subsequent cobbled descent. The second sector, at Varent, is 809 metres long and comes 27km from the line, and the final one, 800m long, is Herlegemstraat just under 7km from the line.

Teammate Nairo Quintana also raced Dwars door Vlaanderen as preparation for Tour de France cobbles in 2015. He finished 78th before also riding E3-Harelbeke, where he did not finish.

Movistar are heading to the 2018 Tour with their 'big three' of Landa, Quintana, and Alejandro Valverde. Team manager Eusebio Unzué has suggested they'll all be tested on the cobbles ahead of the Tour, though it hasn't been confirmed yet where that will be for Quintana and Valverde.

Frenchman Romain Bardet, a podium finisher at the last two Tours, has already committed to riding Dwars door Vlaanderen as well as the dirt roads of Strade Bianche in March. 

The Tour de France cobbles come on stage 9 and feature some of the sectors used in Paris-Roubaix. The stage has been billed as a decisive one for the yellow jersey contenders, with a total of 21.7km of pavé across 15 sectors.

Having made his Movistar and season debut at last week's Ruta del Sol, Landa will next race at Tirreno-Adriatico in early March, followed by Dwars door Vlaanderen and then the Vuelta al País Vasco, his first race alongside Quintana.

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