Mikel Landa will target a stage victory and a high overall finish at the Vuelta a España, though the Basque is surely mindful that he will begin the race a notch below Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru in the hierarchy of the Astana squad.
"At the start there'll be three of us and we’ll see where we are day by day," Landa told Biciciclismo. "The team's goal is to win and hopefully that will happen with one of us. Last year, we won the Tour with Nibali and we want to repeat and win a Grand Tour this year."
Although Landa is set to leave Astana at the end of the season, with Team Sky the likely destination, he has been selected for what is, at least on paper, the strongest line-up at the Vuelta, which gets underway in Marbella on Saturday.
After emerging to claim third place overall and two stage victories at the Giro d'Italia, Landa is targeting similar success in Spain. "I aiming for a stage win and to be up there in the general classification," he said.
Landa has raced sparingly since the Giro, only returning to action at the Clasica San Sebastian. He was still short of his best at the Vuelta a Burgos after training at altitude at the Alto de Navacerrada in the build-up to the event, and he also went on to suffer a crash during the team time trial.
"Maybe I didn't have the sensations I expected," Landa admitted. "I was a long time without racing and although I worked my hardest, it took me a little longer than I thought [to find form]. But I think I'm going in the right direction for the Vuelta."
Astana's Rein Taaramäe and Michele Scarponi – neither of whom will feature at the Vuelta – claimed the top two places in Burgos, while Landa finished in 25th place overall. He refused to blame his crash for his showing, saying instead that he was still recovering from his exertions at altitude.
"Coming down from altitude unbalanced the body a bit. It was the first time I'd gone to altitude this year and it cost me. The crash in Burgos didn't have any effect," Landa said. "After the race, I decided not to go back to altitude. I stayed at home, did some good training and rested up to get ready for the Vuelta."
Landa has raced the Vuelta in each of the past three seasons, placing 69th, 39th and 28th, and he is confident of continuing that progression this time around. "Every year, I've gained more experience," he said. "We'll see what happens on the road."
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