Mikel Landa has signed a two-year deal with Movistar, the team has confirmed. Landa said on Monday that he had not yet signed a deal, but had been heavily linked with the Spanish squad over recent months.
"It's great news for us," said Movistar team general manager Eusebio Unzué. "Being a young rider still and with everything that he's shown, he should be the rider who leads Spanish cycling for the next few years."
Landa has been linked with a switch to Movistar since the beginning of the summer, even before Unzue confirmed his interest in signing the Basque. Landa had said that he would like to remain at Team Sky, where he has been since last year, but also hinted that he was interested in Movistar. The move sees him join Movistar's other Grand Tour leaders Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. With Valverde approaching the end of his career, however, and with Quintana reportedly falling out with the team management, he could find himself as their main leader in the future.
Landa has been highly-touted as a Grand Tour rider since the 2015 Giro d'Italia, where he rode into third place behind Alberto Contador and his then Astana teammate Fabio Aru. He was snapped up by Team Sky as their leader for the Giro in 2016, though his first season proved difficult. Illness took Landa out of the Giro in the second week, and he produced a lacklustre ride at the subsequent Tour de France.
This year's Giro brought another setback for Landa, who lost all hope of overall victory when he came down in the same crash at the foot of the Blockhaus that later forced his teammate Geraint Thomas to abandon. Landa was able to continue and after two near misses, he went on to win a stage at Piancavallo and the mountains classification. Landa had originally hoped to ride the Vuelta a Espana, but the team drafted him into the Tour de France line-up.
Landa was Chris Froome's strongest supporter at the Tour, and at one point, it even looked as though he was in better form than his team leader. He went on to finish fourth overall, missing out on the podium by just a single second to Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). Following the Tour, he vented his frustrations to the Spanish press about having to play second fiddle, pointing particularly to the finish on the Col d'Izoard where he was chased down by his leader Froome after going on the attack.
Landa carried his form into Clasica San Sebastian, where he helped set-up teammate Michal Kwiatkowski for victory, and then went on to win two stages and the general classification at the Vuelta a Burgos. He is currently taking a break from racing, but is likely to be back for Il Lombardia at the beginning of October. Landa joins Eduardo Sepulveda and Jaime Roson as confirmed signings for Movistar in 2018.
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