Mikel Landa will make his debut in Movistar blue at the four-day Mallorca Challenge this week, organisers have confirmed. Landa had been due to debut at the Ruta del Sol and the appearance will be his first in Mallorca since he went there during his first season at Astana in 2014.
Alejandro Valverde is also set to return to racing for the first time since crashing out dramatically at the Tour de France last summer. Fellow Grand Tour rider, Nairo Quintana, who lined out at the Mallorca Challenge last season, is not at the race, choosing to start his season at the Colombia Oro y Paz next month.
Landa was Movistar’s star signing over the winter months, joining the Spanish squad after two seasons with Team Sky. The 28-year-old joined the team with the intention of getting more opportunities as a Grand Tour challenger. However, he is likely going to have to share such responsibility with both Valverde and Quintana at the Tour de France, and perhaps the Vuelta a España, later this season.
Landa and his Movistar teammates have been attending a training camp in Mallorca in recent days, staying at the Rafael Nadal Sports Centre, which is sponsored by Movistar. The team is sporting a strong and relatively experienced line-up in Mallorca, with Jose Joaquin Rojas, Daniele Bennati, Imanol Erviti and Andre Amador among the nine named. Younger riders Jorge Arcas and Hector Carretero are also set to race, while Jaime Roson joins Landa in making his team debut.
The Mallorca Challenge begins on January 25 with the Trofeo Campos-Ses Salines, which is an opportunity for the sprinters. While wrapped up in one series, riders do not have to compete in every race over the four days. Landa is likely to make his first showing at the hillier 140km Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana on Friday, January 26. The following day’s Trofeo Lloseta-Andratx is another shot for the climbers before the sprinters return for the Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma on Sunday.
Movistar for the Mallorca Challenge: Mikel Landa, Alejandro Valverde, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Daniele Bennati, Imanol Erviti, Andre Amador, Jorge Arcas, Hector Carretero and Jaime Roson.