Nairo Quintana has opened up about the arrival of Mikel Landa at Movistar, welcoming the Spaniard as a quality addition while also underlining his own credentials as the outright leader of the Spanish squad.
"I am the leader of the team and I am the leader for the Tour [de France]," Quintana said in a Q&A interview in Tuesday's edition of Spanish newspaperEl País.
Landa was signed from Team Sky, where had grown frustrated at the lack of opportunity for leadership in the Grand Tours, finishing a solitary second off the podium at this year's Tour de France as he sacrificed himself for Chris Froome. There were echoes of his time at Astana and the way he'd had to curb his own ambitions in the interests of Fabio Aru at the 2015 Giro d'Italia.
"This cannot happen to me again," Landa said on the second rest day of the Tour.
Asked if he perceived Landa as a threat, given the 28-year-old's status as a 'home' rider on the Spanish team, Quintana, who's Colombian, replied: "That has never crossed my mind.
"I've had good talks with Eusebio [Unzue, team manager –ed]. We know that each one will have his own responsibilities, his own races – Spanish or not Spanish. I'm aware of the support that [Movistar parent company] Telefonica gives me in Latin America, where they have a large part of their business. I'm a 'home' rider and I feel at ease and appreciated by the brand, and vice versa."
Quintana welcomed Landa and the quality he will bring to the team, even if he did speak about him fulfilling roles not immediately associated with a leader, such as helping to break up races and filling holes in the calendar.
"Being the leader of the team as I am, Landa is well received," said Quintana. "For us it's a great help for races that I myself might have had to do for the sake of the team and the sponsor. Previously it was me who had to be there, but now there will be one more person covering these types of races, and then I will be at the most important ones that we believe will lead me into the Tour in good shape.
"We know that he's a guy who's going to bring a lot to the team. When we need to break up the race we will have a guy who can create a selection in the peloton for a 'one-on-one' at the moment when the opportunity presents itself. We have different ways of playing things and ways of setting up a team. If two or three others like Landa came to the team it wouldn't be so bad, no?"
As well as stating that he is the outright leader for the Tour, Quintana also revealed that the team's third star rider, Alejandro Valverde, will be the leader for the Vuelta a España. That, in theory, leaves Landa to go for the Giro d'Italia before slotting in as a support rider once again either in France or Spain.
Quintana said he had not yet spoken with Landa, but explained that the necessary conversations will take place at the upcoming winter training camp.
"We have many ways of approaching things, with these two teammates as well, with each one supporting the other when required," said Quintana. "I am the leader of the team and I am the leader for the Tour. If Alejandro comes to support me, it would be a blessing, and if Landa comes, the same. That would be a great team to take on strong teams like Sky."
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