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Mikel Landa expected to leave Team Sky after just two seasons

Joseph Delves
23 Jun 2017

Supporting Chris Froome this July at the Tour de France looks likely to be the Basque rider’s final job for the team

Mikel Landa looks likely to leave Team Sky at the end of the season, with several newspapers reporting the move. Spanish squad Movistar appears his most probable destination. Their manager Eusebio Unzue recently told El País, 'Of course I would like Landa to wear our jersey! I would sign him right now, but the matter is complicated.

'Also, until August, no team has the right to negotiate and therefore I won’t comment further.'

With the transfer market opening on 1st August, the Basque rider appears to be hot property. Team Sky, his employer for the past two years, have stated their desire to retain him.

Astana, where Landa spent the early part of his career, are also thought to have made offers to regain his services, a move the rider reportedly rebuffed.

Likewise he rejected advances from BMC Racing and UAE-Emirates. That left deals on the table from his current employers, alongside Bahrain-Merida and Movistar.

While officially riders and teams are not supposed to negotiate before the transfer window opens, frantic deal making ahead of the date means most moves are agreed well in advance.

If Landa leaves Team Sky he'll be exiting a team that has already given him a leading role as a Grand Tour rider, most notably at this year's Giro d'Italia (alebit as joint leader with Geraint Thomas), where he had a fair chance of pushing for a podium finish before being involved in a moto incident.

Landa's recovery to win the mountains classification will have boosted his appeal to other teams.

Simultaneously the squad have also employed Landa as a super-domestique for Chris Froome. Landa was instrumental in guiding Froome to victory through the mountains at the 2016 Tour and it’s a role the team will have Landa will reprise this July.

Should the 27-year-old rider find a new home at Movistar he’ll be joining a team that already has two strong leaders in the form of Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde.

However, while Valverde seems in the form of his career, at 37, he can’t continue indefinitely.

Despite their success, Movistar’s budget is estimated to be less than half that of Team Sky’s. How they’ll afford to employ three big-name riders remains to be seen.

Given the better funded teams he’s rejected, Landa’s move is likely to be less about money and more about what he believes to be are his prospects of gaining a slot to lead at future Grand Tours.