Mikel Landa got his first stage win with Team Sky out of the way at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Spaniard now lines up at the Giro del Trentino capable of winning his first stage race with the British WorldTour squad but is downplaying his chances ahead of the 2.HC Race.
Landa was twice second on stages at last year's race, eventually finishing second overall behind Richie Porte, 12-months on from winning a stage at the Northern Italian race. Landa winning his home stage at Pais Vasco and wearing the leader's jersey is enough for former teammate Vincenzo Nibali to label the 26-year-old as the favourite for Trentino victory but the Sky rider suggested otherwise in his pre-race comments.
"Trentino has been a special race for me over the last few years. I'm still not in my very peak condition, but I'm close to that, so I'll try and finish as high on the standings as I can and keep building my relations with my team-mates," Landa said of his ambitions for the race on the Team Sky website.
Following an interrupted start to the season that saw Landa skip Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana to work on his time trialling skills, he then fell ill and missed Ruta del Soland Tirreno-Adriatico as a result. Landa made his long awaited debut in Sky colours at the Coppi e Bartali stage race, finishing 11th before heading to the Basque Country.
"Doing so in a place I know so well was extra special," Landa said of his win. "I'd prepared for that stage a lot in the weeks leading up to it and it was a big goal of mine. I was happy with the way I rode that day and am pleased to have achieved one of my early-season goals. Getting into the leader's jersey was a nice bonus as well. I always knew it was going to be difficult to hold onto it until the end of the race, so I savoured the time I had in it.
"I finished with a lot of confidence, not just because of my own performance, but because of the whole team's."
With the Giro d'Italia the main objective of the season for Landa, the Giro del Trentino is an important race in the build up to the Italian grand tour and an important opportunity to iron out the creases before the Corsa Rosa.
"It's vital that I get to know my team-mates as well as I can before the Giro d'Italia, and these spring races are great for that. We're almost a team within a team if you like and we're working really well together. We're all building our condition at the same time before for our main goal in May," Landa said of the importance to gel with his teammate.
Joining Landa for the four-stage race are teammates Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Christian Knees, David Lopez, Gianni Moscon, Alex Peters and Xabier Zandio with the majority due to join him in the final nine-rider Giro squad.
Sky will be the first team to start the 12.1km stage 1 team time trial from Riva del Garda to Torbole at 15:05 local time. For the full TTT start times, click here