Mikel Landa (Team Sky) has said that whilst future Movistar teammates Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde would be leaders at the Tour de France "from the outset," he does not yet rule out his own options in the race.
Landa was talking at Movistar's team launch in Madrid on Thursday and he maintained, broadly speaking, the same attitude as when he spoke last at length to reporters at a team training camp in Navarre last month. The Basque recognised Valverde and Quintana's top status for the Tour but confirmed that coming so closely to the podium in July had left him with a sense of unfinished business.
"I like the Giro, but coming so close without playing all my cards makes me want to return to [the Tour] this year," Landa said, according to the Spanish website Ciclo21.
Currently, Movistar are mulling over the idea of sending all three leaders to the Tour, although they are waiting until the Vuelta a España route is published January 13 before the riders' specific race calendars are definitively established.
The question of the World Championships is also at the back of Landa's mind, but he says he is not thinking too hard about it for now.
"For the moment, I'm only planning as far as the Tour," he said. "I want to have my chance to do something [in the Tour] and that'll be when I look at the rest of the season."
But it's no secret that the exceptionally hilly route for the 2018 Worlds makes it one where stage race specialists like Landa have a much greater chance of success, and that may well ultimately influence his second half of the season more than in other years.
Whilst using the same tried-and-tested formula as team manager Eusebio Unzué to describe how he and Quintana will work together when it comes to sharing the leadership at the Tour - "the road will decide" - Landa conceded that "Alejandro and Nairo would be the leaders at the outset because they've already been there, and looking at their palmares, they've shown they're the strongest. Then it will be the road that decides who needs most support for the overall."
When it comes to racing with a different team in 2018, Landa showed that his fondness for an aggressive racing approach has by no means disappeared.
"We'll see how the races play out, but if we are there with two or three leaders, why not send one up the road and then whatever happens, happens. The directors will have to handle those sorts of scenarios well."
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