Sky's the limit for leader Landa at the Giro
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Tipped as the next Spanish cycling great when Alberto Contador hangs up his racing bike, Mikel Landa is less than a month away from being given the stage to justify his billing.
When the Giro d'Italia begins in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, on May 6 and Landa rolls off the start ramp he will do so as team leader at a Grand Tour for the first time.
It will break new ground for the 26-year-old Basque who was third last year despite riding as a domestique for Astana's team leader Fabio Aru, who he also supported to victory in the Vuelta.
Offered the carrot of having a team built around him for the Giro by Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford, Landa jumped at the chance to become a team mate of double Tour de France champion Chris Froome.
"It was a very easy decision," Landa, slowly getting up to speed after a virus delayed his competitive race debut for his new employer, told Reuters at a recent training camp.
"Sky said they were years ago looking for me and they offered me the project to be the leader of the team.
"After last year I knew I could win a Grand Tour so now I have the opportunity and everything is focused on the Giro."
Question marks remain about Landa's time-trialling ability, and his fitness after a delayed start to the season, but he has already proven a match for anyone in the mountains. Continued...