Landa Set For Maiden Tour de France With Movistar
Landa’s Tour Preview: The second Movistar Tour interview is with Mikel Landa. The Basque climber is set to take the start of the Tour de France for the first time with the powerful Telefónica-backed squad, alongside Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. Landa’s third Tour appearence, but first with Movistar; the strongest team on the Vendée start line of the ‘Grande Boucle’.
This series of interviews are translated from videos taken by the Movistar team. You can read the first interview with Nairo Quintana HERE.
The 2018 Season:
Mikel Landa: “It’s been a pretty calm year so far. We planned on reaching an early form peak in the spring to contest the Vuelta al País Vasco and being able to help Alejandro out in the Ardennes classics, which I didn’t really known well. I drew some good conclusions from those efforts, and after that, we started thinking only about the Tour.”
Preparations for the Tour:
“After the classics I rested up for some days and later headed south to train in altitude, in Madrid’s Navacerrada mountain peak, for twenty days, trying to put on some heavier work load, building a good base before taking on some intense efforts, long climbs and longer sessions, prior to fine-tuning that form at the Tour de Suisse. Before the Tour de France, I’ll also be spending some days in the Pyrenees, getting to know well the three mountain stages and putting on some final mountain training before the race.
“I’ll be reaching the TDF with 30 racing days under my belt, but more importantly than the figures, the approach to the Tour will be completely different to previous years. In the last two times I took on this race, I had previously ridden the Giro. You come to the start after having reached your peak form just few weeks before, and it’s about keeping that fitness alive and staying strong. This time I expect to keep progressing during the race and hopefully feel quite fresher at the final part of the competition.”
“My aim is to fight for some important results until the very last day. Our expectations are going for the maximum results. I’d like to contest the Tour de France victory, but we’re yet to start the race and see how I can really do. Last year I was really close to finishing on the podium, and that makes me dream about being able to contest the win. I’m in good form, in good morale, mentally fresh, really excited and hopeful about my chances.”
“Froome is the top favorite. He’s won the Giro, he’s finished the race in great form and I’m sure he’ll be again strong in the Tour. He’s won this race four times and will be the man to beat. He’ll surely start out in great form, but might pay after his efforts in the Giro during the final week. With him aboard, Team Sky will take on the main responsibility at the front of the bunch, just like in previous years. However, there are many other favorites: Porte, Urán, Bardet, Nibali… I think like there’s a field strong enough to not see the race scenario focusing just on Froome.”
Team and Leader Cohabitation:
“The harmony between the three of us team leaders will be surely good. I’ve already completed two stage-races with Nairo and we got on well with each other. I’ve not raced as much with Alejandro, but he’s a man whom you get along with instantly. We’ve got a very competitive team and that should help us work together more easily. We have a well-balanced team all around, with skilled, expert riders, some of the best you could find in the peloton to take on such a challenge. It’s a super team – one of the best, if not the best, in this race.”
“Nairo is a born leader, one of the best climbers in the world, one who can made any race explode when there are some tough slopes. Valverde is another great leader who can excel at any terrain. From all big candidates to win any Grand Tour, he’s the man with the best all-around skills. Rojas is a luxury domestique. He fought for individual success in the past and now he’s focused on helping his team-mates out – he’s always where you need him. Erviti has always been a great support for those flat stages where the GC contenders need someone to take care of them to just focus on reaching the finish. Amador, just like Soler, is a great all-rounder, a real factor for the team time trial. He’ll be surely a great helper for the flat and the mid mountains. Finally, Bennati is an excellent rouleur, full of experience. He’ll helps us out at flat finishes, in the crosswinds…”
“It’s a very demanding parcours, a well-balanced one. The first week contains many traps which we have to get through safely to win the Tour. Then there’s the two final weeks, with lots of mountains and an individual time trial which might become not as decisive as expected, but still suits us well, because it’s on the penultimate day and it’s quite hilly.
“I’ve inspected the pavé stage, together with the rest of my team-mates. I feel like it was important to be riding on the cobblestones before the real race. Since they’re far from home, the Alps stages I haven’t really had a look at them, but we know the roads well from the past and, combined with our directors’ experience, we won’t really miss a thing about them before the race. And in these final days before the race I’ll be getting to know the Pyrenees stages, especially that short stage, which will certainly make for some significant gaps. It’s a very different stage, one we’re not so used to, and should also be a bit crazy.
“I did recon the individual time trial, since it’s quite close to home. I think it will pretty much come down to the energy left in the tank for everyone. It’s got plenty of pace changes, and if you’re not in good condition, you can pay and lose precious time.”
The Tour: Memories
Earliest souvenir from the race:
“I got hooked on the Tour by watching Mayo, Zubeldia, Beloki and many others as they contested victory in the early 2000s, from 2003 and 2004 on. I remember watching those stages with my dad. During flat stages I got bored and asleep, but the mountain stages did get me in love with this sport.”
Really getting to admire the Tour:
“Last year I really understood the best things about the Tour. I enjoyed the 2017 race much, because it really gives you recognition, makes you become a household name. That’s something any sportsperson can appreciate.”
First Tour de France appearance:
“The thing that caught my attention most about the race is the massive crowds over the entire course – not only at certain points, rather than the whole route of a stage. That’s what got me the most impressed about this race.”
“At the Pyrenees stages in the 2017 Tour I was riding very easily in the mountains and I enjoyed the racing much, it was beautiful for me. However, at the Foix stage I really understood what was at stake. Until then, I was only thinking about playing as a domestique. That day, I realized I could aim for something else, it really changed my mind.”
“It gave me much confidence. Reaching the penultimate day of a Grand Tour and completing such a fine TT made me believe that, depending on the day, I can also time trial well.”
1″ off overall podium:
“I didn’t look at it as if it was important in the hours after that result. I hadn’t really looked at myself as a potential TDF podium contender during that race, and didn’t feel disappointed about not getting that result. As time went by, I started thinking about it and I’d of course have loved to be there. It made me sad, but also made me realize I had to continue working hard in order to get there this year.”
# Big thanks to Movistar Communications for the insight. You can find more on the Movistar Team website. #
You can see the ‘PEZ Tour Route Preview’ HERE and stay tuned for the rider preview on Wednesday.