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First Froome, now Landa: Rumours suggest Team Sky's doing something right

Martin James
9 Jun 2017

Another day, another rider said to be looking for the exit door: Mikel Landa reportedly unhappy at having to ride the Tour

Just a day after suggestions that Chris Froome is looking to leave Team Sky comes fresh rumours that one of Froome’s chief lieutenants, Spanish climber Mikel Landa, could be headed for the exit door himself.

The rumour is based on the likelihood that Landa will be part of Sky’s line-up at next month’s Tour de France after his impressive performance in the Giro d’Italia, where he won Stage 19 and took the overall maglia azzurra climber’s prize.

That would almost certainly rule Landa out of the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a Espana in August, which is Landa’s home Tour and one he previously identified as a target for the season.

None of this is new – in fact, stories suggesting Landa could ride the Tour started circulating before the end of the Giro, where Landa’s win at Piancavallo and victory in the mountains classification went a long way to erasing the disappointment at Geraint Thomas having to abandon earlier in the race.

So what has changed now? Simply that Landa has told Spanish daily AS that while nothing is certain yet, it ‘seems likely’ that he will ride the Tour. This in turn has prompted Eurosport commentator and cycling correspondent José Been to tweet the following:

Mikel Landa has to ride Tour de France, despite his wish to ride Vuelta. Pretty sure he’ll leave sky

This comes just a day after reports linking Chris Froome with a move to BMC Racing because of his supposed disillusionment with how Team Sky has handled the ‘jiffy bag’ and TUE sagas – reports Froome has already dismissed as total rubbish.

Now just because speculation about Froome was wrong doesn’t mean rumours about Landa are too. Been is clearly just giving her opinion – one she’s perfectly entitled to – and she may even be right.

In the broader context, though, it highlights two points, both of which are definitely relevant to Team Sky right now, regardless of how true those or any rumours are individually.

The first is that keeping such a strong stable of riding talent as Sky have on their books happy really can’t be easy. Froome, Thomas, Landa, Sergio Henao, Deigo Rosa, Mikel Nieve… the team has an embarrassment of riches to choose from when it comes to stage race contenders, many of whom would be team leaders anywhere else.

I’m not saying Sky deserves sympathy for its ‘predicament’. Much like the multi-millionaire struggling to pick which of his villas on the Mediterranean to spend the summer in, the situation is considerably more silver lining than cloud.

But maybe Sky, and Froome in particular, can take greater solace from the second point the issue brings to mind – and yesterday’s story did to an even greater degree. And it’s that one of the chief reason rumours like these are gaining traction right now is because they suggest reasons why Froome (and Sky) might not dominate the 2017 Tour.

As John Lydon put it, ‘If you are pissing people off, you know you are doing something right.’

Just to remind you, the 104th Tour de France starts on 1st July, and yes, Chris Froome is the favourite.