Movistar is bullish Mikel Landa will perform at maximum capacity in 2019 following a rough and tumble debut with the Spanish blues.
Landa expressed optimism he would be back at his best next season following a string of crashes that kept him from shining at his best during 2018.
“If this year didn’t work out, next year it will,” Landa said. “It was a complicated season, with the crash at the Tour, I was never at my best and after crashing at San Sebastián, it really cost me a lot to try to get back for the Vuelta and the worlds.”
The Basque star was hampered at the Tour following a heavy fall on the pavé. He crashed again just as he was hitting top form at Clásica de San Sebastián.
“It really wore me out and I needed to take a long break to recover physically and mentally,” he said. “I’ve learned you need to be patient in these complicated situations, and next year I hope to avoid troubles so I can do what I know I can.”
Landa joined Movistar this year with big expectations of top results on the bike and intrigue off the bike with teammate Nairo Quintana. The pair ended up riding professionally and even became friends. In races, both Landa and Quintana suffered. Quintana delivered a Tour stage win but could not follow the best in GC. Landa rode into the top 10 despite injuries to his back in a spill on the cobbles.
“Mikel was never himself during the Tour and when he finally started to feel better, the race was over,” said Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue. “Class doesn’t disappear in a day, and I’m sure Mikel will be better than ever when he’s healthy in 2019.”
Unzue said he will bring both Landa and Quintana back to the Tour, but said racing calendars are still not finalized.
“With both Mikel and Nairo we can aspire for the maximum. As we’ve seen, bad luck and crashes can dash even the best-laid plans,” he said. “Everyone knows Mikel is capable of doing special things. We expect to see that even more next season.”
Landa, who resisted offers from other teams and will fulfill the second year of his two-year deal with Movistar, said his priority will be the Tour.
“I want and have to go to the Tour,” he said. “We’ll see about the Giro or Vuelta.”