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‘We are not going to ride for ourselves individually, but we all have a chance to win’: Mikel Landa Q&A

Laura Meseguer
28 Jun 2018

Mikel Landa is back at the Tour with a new team with new aspirations. We talk to him about team leaders, Froome and the World Cup

Cyclist: Two weeks ahead of the Tour de France, how are you feeling?

Mikel Landa: I’m feeling very good. Right now we’re in the Pyrenees, doing the last recons before heading home for the last week. 

Cyc: Has your preparation changed much this year compared with previous years? 

ML: Yes, for the previous two years I’ve been riding the Giro before the Tour, so these last weeks of June were always about keeping the shape and resting. This year, having not ridden the Giro, my preparation has been more progressive so I can start the Tour with a good condition and finish it feeling even better. 

It’s true that this kind of preparation may lead to uncertainty and I’ve been constantly testing myself to check at what point I am and if everything is going in the right path. I’m sure I’ll feel better for it in the third week of race.

Cyc: What are some of the differences going into the Tour with Movistar, compared to last year with Team Sky?

ML: I see one clear difference , and it’s that at Sky last year there was just one leader in Chris Froome and the rest of the team was built around him. Movistar are a much more offensive team with three leaders, and that's not including Marc Soler, who isn't going to have any responsibility in the race he will be an important help in the mountain stages. 

The team is very strong and with Nairo, Alejandro and myself, we are aiming for the highest positions of the general classification. We are not going to ride for ourselves individually, but we all have the chance to win. 

Cyc: You’ve said that you would like to win this year’s Tour. How will the team be managed given there are three possible candidates for victory? 

ML: I think we are all clear that we must race for Movistar, and it’s important to understand this in order to get the most out of our situation. It is true that the three of us want to win the Tour individually but we need to play our cards against our rivals and there will be a moment where the race will favour one of us more than the other. It is important that we race aggressively to push the other teams back.

Cyc: Did you follow the Giro d’Italia this year?

ML: Yes. What Froome did on the Colle delle Finestre was unbelievable, nobody expected that. It was beautiful to watch but at the same time it’s scary because we thought we knew all about his strenghts and abilities and he suddenly suprised us with that solo attack 80 kilometres to go.

Hopefully for us he will have to pay for those efforts at the Tour, but I still believe he will be very strong because he finished the Giro in good shape. You don’t win four Tours by coincidence, he knows how to plan his season and I believe he's the biggest favourite for this year’s race as well. 

Cyc: Talking about Team Sky, it looks like Geraint Thomas will co-lead the team with Chris Froome. How do you think it is going to work? 

ML: I think the team will save Thomas until the end of the race, without being in the front or working for Froome. He’s an excellent time-triallist so I believe he will gain some time already in the first week. We haven’t seen this before – Team Sky riding the Tour with two leaders – but Geraint is lucky to be British and he’s in the right team for that. 

Cyc: What do you think about Froome’s participation at the Tour de France without having a resolution of his adverse analytical finding from the doping test during last year's Vuelta?

ML: I think it clouds the sports environment but at the same time it’s not in his hands to decide if he races the Tour or not until a solution is taken. 

Cyc: You rode with Vincenzo Nibali at Astana and with Froome at Sky. What can you take from that to benefit Movistar this year at the Tour? 

ML: In terms of Nibali, I know his ambition and his style of racing – always aggressive. It doesn’t matter if it is climbing, riding on cobbles or descending. 

I think that Froome’s main weapon is his ability to manage his strengths in a Grand Tour. At the end, riding with them means you know the style of racing of the different teams and where they feel more comfortable. 

Cyc: Do you start this Tour with more aspirations than last year? 

ML: Above all, I feel confident. It is clear for me that I have a chance. Since the start of the year I’ve planned everything to arrive at this Tour at 100%.

Cyc: Do you still think about that second that kept you out of the podium last year?

ML: Yes, that was a lesson. You have to fight for every second because that could be the distance from a victory or a podium. It is an extra motivation now as I come back to this Tour.  

Cyc: Will you stay true to your agressive style or you will have to race in a more controlled way? 

ML: It’s something I don’t think about. If I want and I feel good, I’ll try. It’s something I can’t change, it’s my style. 

Cyc: Who will be on the podium in Paris?

ML: The podium? I don't want to say! (laughs). I see favourites like Froome, Nibali, Bardet and Porte, but I can also see some other riders that we will have to fight if we want to take a victory.

Cyc: Are you following the World Cup?

ML: Yes – there’s not much to watch on the TV these days! I’m not a serious football fan but I watch the important games. 

Cyc: Who do you think is going to win?

ML: That’s even harder to predict than a podium for the Tour!

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